Monday, January 12, 2009

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Attorney General Launches New Online Service Providing Greater Transparency of Charities in Texas

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today launched a new online resource that will allow Texans to search Texas charitable organizations’ tax filings. The newly created database will provide instant, user-friendly access to Texas charitable organizations’ expenditure data so that potential supporters, committed contributors and the general public can easily learn how charitable dollars are being spent.

Under Texas law, the Attorney General is charged with overseeing certain charitable organizations. The initiative launched today reflects Attorney General Abbott’s ongoing commitment to transparency and openness, as well as his continuing effort to ensure that charitable organizations fulfill their charitable purpose.

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“Texas is blessed with very generous people who readily lend a hand when their fellow Texans need a helping hand,” Attorney General Abbott said. “When hard-working Texans reach into their own pockets to support a good cause, they expect their hard-earned dollars to serve a legitimate charitable purpose. The Web site we launched today will provide instant, open access to Texas’ charities financial data so that volunteers, donors, and others can easily examine how their favorite charity is spending its valuable resources.”

Texans will be able to search charitable organizations’ tax forms by clicking on the “Charity Search” button at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov. The charities’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 990 documents include information about the organization’s executive compensation, funding for charitable programs and the charity’s sources of financial support. Charitable organizations that receive more than $100,000 in donations and have assets totaling more than $250,000 are required to file 990s with the IRS. Although organizations that file Form 990s are required to make copies available to the public, the online database will eliminate the need for Texans to request this information from individual charities.

Today’s database launch coincides with a charitable medical care summit that was organized by the Office of the Attorney General. Titled, “Charitable Hospitals: Modern Trends, Obligations and Challenges,” the meeting offered hospital administrators guidance on state laws that govern charitable hospitals. Discussion topics included: the formation and implementation of meaningful charity care programs at hospitals, state law requirements for charitable care, and innovative solutions to address the growing disparity in access to quality health care.

For more information on the Charitable Hospitals summit or to access the online Charity Search, visit the Attorney General’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.