From Kit’s Desk
Legionnaires and Legion family members, our National Commander Dan Dellinger and our Department Commander William Cleveland are traveling across our Commonwealth on the annual National Commanders Tour 17 – 19 of March. The 17th we will be visiting Lancaster American Legion Post 034 for a dinner. The 18th we will be in Middletown Post 594 and on the 19th we will conclude the tour at American Legion Post 474 in Zelienople. This is a great chance to come out and meet our National Commander and hear his important message. The flyers have been sent out to each post. Please plan to attend the dinner when it is in your area. Together we can show our Pennsylvania pride by supporting both the dinner ad book and attend the dinner. We look forward to seeing you there.
Our Department Oratorical Contest finals will be held at the Harrisburg Forum. They will start at 10 a.m. on the 9th day of March. There is one candidate from each section and they will compete that day. The state champion will then represent our department at the National Oratorical finals. These Pennsylvania candidates will be competing for $16,500.00 in scholarship awards, to be awarded at the conclusion of the department finals. All three of them will go home a winner. This is one of our most prestigious programs and other than your travel to Harrisburg is totally free of charge. The admission to the Harrisburg Forum and parking is free. I promise you this is an entertaining event that will impress you. If you are able, try and attend and show support for this program!
The Small Games of Chance law has been changed again. Effective January 27, 2014 the House Bills 290 & 1098 have become law. There are some key points that will affect our club and American Legion Post operations. The synopses of these changes have been mailed out to each of our Posts Adjutants. They in turn must pass this information on to the membership of the post and the management of the club quarters responsible persons. A very brief summary of these bills is as follows;
House Bill #290
· Expands the definition of “public interest purpose” to include activities conducted by a veterans organization.
· Clarifies that an organization operating solely in the public interest has the ability to donate back to the home post.
· Increases prizes from $1,000 to $2,000
· Increases weekly limit from $25,000 to $35,000
· Provides that if a club license is affiliated with a veteran’s organization the club license may provide funds from their 60% of small games of chance proceeds to a veterans organization.
· Clarifies that Revenue, not LCE, is required to do biennial random audits of 5% of clubs.
House Bill #1098
· Changes distribution of proceeds for clubs to a 60% for the public interest purposes and 40% for general operating expenses.
· Removes the list of general operating expenses; the 40% can be used by the club for anything except the payment of fines.
These two bills will place the control of 100% of the proceeds under the combined control of the home association (40%) and the American Legion Post (60%). After the 60%, 40% split has been made the 60% is not under the scrutiny of the LCE. The fact is the post may spend these funds on the post or anything they want to improve in the post. It is very important to remember that although our posts can receive the 60% from small games of chance proceeds they need to still be making the donations to support programs of our organization. The LCE will no longer have the oversight of the 60% but we must remember the IRS is always looking to challenge a non-profits tax exempt status. One caveat of this new law is it should reemphasize the close relationship between the American Legion Post and the post’s Home Association. Again it is important to remember each post and each home association “MUST” file an IRS form 990. That’s two form 990’s one for the post and one for the home association. Failure to do so can and will result in the loss of the tax exempt status. Also the LCE has informed us: CLUB LICENSEES & ELIGIBLE ORGANIZATIONS: Club licensees and eligible organizations will NOT be required to submit electronic annual reports to the department by Feb 1, 2014. Reporting for 2014 will be required by Feb. 1, 2015 for clubs with proceeds of $20,000 or more, and access to the online reporting system will be available from this site in late 2014.
Before posts go crazy and spend all their proceeds from small games of chance on the post’s wish list, I ask you to consider this, among post improvements one issue needs to be openly and adamantly addressed and that is membership. Posts and their home associations must realize our tax exempt status is reliant on keeping our membership strong! Regular members may not frequent your club operations but they are extremely important! As mentioned before, the IRS is always vigilant and we need to maintain a strong veteran membership to enjoy and maintain our tax exempt status. With that in mind posts should all make sure they have an active membership recruiting team. Each post should have goals to sign up all eligible veterans in their respective areas!
Our next Department Executive Committee meeting is April 25-27 at the Grantville Holiday Inn. Saturday the 26th will be our Department Commanders testimonial dinner. The flyers have been mailed to every post adjutant.
Until next time ……… Kit