A sweeping charities reform package is breezing through the Florida Legislature despite earlier concerns that legitimate philanthropies might be harmed by new rules.
The House bill received unanimous support in three committees and is now ready for a vote on the floor. The Senate bill has one more committee, and members who had been worried about reputable charities now say their issues have been addressed.
State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam started working on what has been called the most extensive rewrite of state charities laws after reading an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting called “America’s Worst Charities.’’ His office’s responsibilities include charity oversight, and his staff has been tweaking the bill to deal with concerns as they arise.
For example, charities initially complained about a requirement that they submit audited financial statements to state regulators in order to remain in good standing. They insisted this was costly and duplicative since they already give similar information to the federal government.
The bills have since been amended to allow charities to provide the state copies of their IRS Form 990, an annual statement certain tax-exempt organizations must file. This step would make it easier for consumers to see this document.