Nonprofit Postage Rates

The issue
Special, preferred postage rates for nonprofits have existed since being authorized by Congress in 1951. To qualify for Nonprofit Standard Mail rates, an organization must be a nonprofit organization organized and operated for a qualifying primary purpose (religious, educational, scientific, charitable, agricultural, labor, veterans, fraternal; certain political committees may also qualify). Under current law, the nonprofit discount rate is 40 percent. 

On February 6, 2014, by a vote of 11 to 5, the Senate Homeland Security Committee passed  the Postal Reform Act (S.1486,) which maintains the nonprofit postage discount rate

On July 24, 2013, by a straight party-line vote of 22 to 17, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved their own postal reform bill (H. R. 2748.)  The bill also maintains the nonprofit discount postage rate.

LEGISLATion in 113th Congress (2013-2014)
House of Representatives Bill
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced the Postal Reform Act of 2013 (H.R. 2748) on July 19, 2013. A committee summary notes that the measure preserves nonprofits' ability to fundraise and communicate in an economical manner. The bill focuses on maintaining services for rural areas and proposes eliminating ordinary delivery on Saturdays. 

Significantly, the measure leaves in place the current 40 percent discount rate utilized by the nonprofit and charitable community.  This is the result of an aggressive advocacy effort by Independent Sector and others within the nonprofit community to educate the committee on the enormous impact of discount rate modifications, and how such changes hinder the sector’s ability to communities with its constituencies. 

Senate Bill
On August 1, 2013, Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Tom Coburn (R-OK), the chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, introduced S.1486, the Postal Reform Act of 2013.  In introducing the bill, Senators Carper and Coburn noted that it "seeks to address the Postal Service’s financial challenges by helping it streamline operations and giving it new tools it can use to introduce innovative new products and generate additional revenue."  While the legislation, like its House counterpart, maintains the nonprofit postage discount rate, it also makes permanent the two-year, above-inflation “exigent rate increase” approved by the Postal Rate Commission which took effect on January 26, 2014.  This increase raises all postal rates by an average of 4.3%.  The Committee held two hearings and two mark-up sessions on the bill.

is position

Independent Sector and its members have been actively engaged with legislation co-sponsors and key committee staff to share with them the importance of maintaining the current nonprofit postage discount rate. Due to these efforts, postal reform legislation in both the House and Senate preserve the nonprofit discount rate.

Among other advocacy efforts, Independent Sector and its members sent a letter to Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) expressing support for preserving the nonprofit postage discount rate in legislation introduced in the 113th Congress. Click here to read the letter and see who signed.

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