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Four Agencies Pursue Charity Status

Businesses might soon be allowed to claim a special state tax credit for donating to four local charities. Last night, Westport’s Director of Human Services Barbara Butler will present their names to the Health and Human Services Committee of the Representative Town Committee for approval.

The four on her list are the Westport-Weston Family YMCA Strong Kids program, Friends of the Levitt Pavilion, the Children’s Community Development Center and Homes with Hope. Those that pass the committee will be recommended to the full RTM for a vote June 1.

The tax credit is offered to businesses that donate between $250 and $150,000 to a qualified charity, under the state’s Neighborhood Assistance Act program. “They can certainly donate more if they want to,” said Butler. “But this credit is only available up to $150,000.

Interested organizations were required to submit an application, which Butler reviewed. The state Department of Revenue Services has the final say but is expected to accept the groups that the town approves.

Butler said that, when the assistance act started in 1995, there was “a slew of interest.” But the state’s complicated procedures whittled down the number of applicants. In 2000, only the Interfaith Housing Association remained on the list. “Then for ten years there was nothing,” said Butler. She attributed some of this year's applications to a monthly informal lunch meeting with representative's from various area organizations.

Organizations operating with NAA approval must provide a community service, such as energy conservation, employment and training opportunities, neighborhood assistance, substance abuse recovery, crime prevention, affordable housing or open space acquisition.

For more information about the Neighborhood Assistance Act Program go to the DRS website at www.ct.gov/drs.

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