Tax Credit Program Benefits Local Groups

WHEELING – A state program to encourage charitable giving was recently awarded more than $230,000 in tax incentives for 25 Northern Panhandle nonprofits to offer to potential donors.

The West Virginia Development Office selected a total of 204 organizations statewide to receive $3 million in tax credits through the Neighborhood Investment Program to distribute to contributing businesses and individuals who can redeem those vouchers to reduce their West Virginia corporate net income tax, business franchise tax or personal income tax. The state Legislature established the program in 1996 to increase contributions to nonprofit organizations.

Those who donate between $500 and $200,000 can receive 50 percent of their contribution in vouchers, which the participating organizations must distribute by June 30. Eligible donations can be in the form of cash, personal property or real estate, and in-kind services also are eligible for the credits if the donor is an architect, attorney, accountant or a licensed medical professional.

Appalachian Outreach Inc. was the only Marshall County-based recipient chosen to participate in the program. Executive Director Rose Hart said the $9,835 in tax credits her organization received are particularly welcome because the group needs a new truck as they prepare to deliver large panels of gypsum wallboard to parts of the state still recovering from a June derecho storm.

Many of those same areas were also among the hardest-hit by remnants of Hurricane Sandy and the suffocating blizzard that accompanied it, she said – including Nicholas County, where the roofs on about 40 homes collapsed under the weight of the snow.

Appalachian Outreach’s goal is to provide aid in remote areas of the state, “where there’s just no other resources at all,” Hart said. In addition to disaster relief, their activities include providing baskets of baby care supplies and personal hygiene and small gift items through the Shoebox Santa program.

“It’s the only Christmas gift they may ever have,” said Hart.

Another local organization accepted into the program, Wheeling Health Right, is facing a 7.5-percent decline in its budget next fiscal year due to state funding cuts. It received $51,730 in credits through the program, and officials there are pleased with the opportunity to leverage more than $100,000 in contributions as a result.

“We get donations that we might not normally get,” said Edie Proger, director of finance for the 29th Street clinic. “People are always calling to see if we have those tax credits.”

Although government funding makes up most of Health Right’s budget, Proger said the clinic would be in “dire straits” without the $120,000 to $150,000 in donations it budgets for each year.

“Our donations keep coming. Sometimes we wonder where they’re coming from,” she said.

Other Ohio County-based agencies receiving credits through the program include: Catholic Charities, $56,180; the Oglebay Foundation, $31,210; Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley, $26,185; West Virginia Northern Community College Foundation, $16,150; Wheeling Symphony Society, $7,435; Augusta Levy Learning Center, $7,025; Youth Services System, $3,365; Wheeling YWCA, $2,325; St. John’s Home for Children, $2,325; the Children’s Home of Wheeling, $2,225; Wheeling Jesuit University, $2,225; Faith in Action Caregivers, $1,880; King’s Daughters Child Care Center, $1,640; Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless, $1,575; Crittenton Foundation, $1,560; Oglebay Institute, $1,500; Harmony House, $1,155; Family Service-Upper Ohio Valley, $1,040; and the Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley, $1,000.

Brooke County organizations receiving tax credits were A Child’s Place CASA, at $1,705; Change Inc., $1,400; and Family Connections Inc., $615. ArtsLink, at $2,300, was the only Wetzel County project chosen. No credits were awarded to organizations based in Hancock or Tyler counties, but several of the local charities chosen do serve residents of those counties even though they are based elsewhere.