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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 4, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Legislature tackles Washington state budget

Keep tax exemption for fraternals

Your March 31 editorial correctly points out the need for state lawmakers to carefully review tax preferences in an effort to raise revenue [“Target tax exemptions for needed revenue,” Opinion, March 31]. However, we are concerned that your support for the repeal of the tax exemption for fraternal benefit societies will do more harm than good to Washington taxpayers and the individuals and organizations that rely on the financial and volunteer support provided by fraternals.

Fraternals are not-for-profit organizations owned by and accountable to their members. They help secure their members’ financial futures by providing individual life insurance and annuity products, and utilize the revenues from their business operations to positively impact the communities where their members live and work.

Fraternals play a vital role as community service providers at a time when government programs are strained to the breaking point. Fraternals fill the gaps in the social-safety net more effectively than government-funded programs. In 2011 alone, fraternals and their members provided communities in Washington with over 1.6 million hours of volunteer service and $7.1 million in direct financial support, far exceeding the value of any revenue to be gained by the elimination of the fraternal exemption.

The more than 120,000 fraternal members in Washington don’t seek headlines, but they make an important difference for people and communities every day. Policymakers and your newspaper should support and encourage their work, not threaten their ability to provide needed community services in a cost-efficient and uniquely American manner.

Joseph J. Annotti, president and CEO of American Fraternal Alliance, Oak Brook, Ill.

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