During and after the BP Oil Spill, George Barisich, President of the United Commercial Fisherman’s Association, and Clint Guidry, President Louisiana Shrimp Association, were working full time to safeguard the interest of the commercial fishing industry. One of the issues they fought for was to get the settlement payments labeled as damages so the fishermen could keep their whole settlements. We did not win on that issue, but one thing that did occur was the spill was declared as a disaster of national significance, which left the door open for the industry to seek legislation to exempt the settlement proceeds.
George wrote a resolution which, through the help of all concerned parties, was passed. The United Commercial Fishermen’s Association (UCFA) was already broke from the expenses of the spill; however, through the generous donations of several members, George had enough funding to launch a campaign to secure the exemption. George reached out to former Congressmen Billy Tauzin to get his opinion and to see if he could lobby the legislation for us. He is happy to report the trip to Washington went well, and that our cause received positive responses from all the legislators on the hill. Billy reported last week that he had reached out a little further, and he believes the timing is right to attempt the effort. Now it is up to you and I to raise the funds we need to get this done.
Unless something changes, you should be getting the second round payment in late 2014 or early 2015. According to the current rate of first round payouts, the second round may be close to the first round, and possibly even more for those who got a large, emergency payment, as that amount will not be deducted from the second-round payouts.
YOU know how much you paid in taxes from the first round! And unless you do some creative bookkeeping, your tax liability is going to be about as much as you paid the first round, or possibly even more. The only question you have to ask yourself is how much of your upcoming tax liability are you willing to advance to this campaign to possibly keep the remainder of the taxes you are going to have to pay in the second round. Understand this: if you do nothing, you will have to pay taxes at whatever rate you got screwed in the first round.
Basically, we are simply asking you to consider taking a portion of what you are going to have to give up eventually to try to keep the rest of what you would have to pay. For some of you, that is a substantial amount of money. If in the event we are not successful, a portion of whatever you advance will still be deductible as a business expense. U.C.F.A. is a non-profit trade association, and funds used for lobbying are not deductible as a business expense. However, any funds the association uses to promote the industry for the benefit of the industry will be tax deductible. Consequently, no matter what the outcome, a large portion of your contribution will be deductible as a business expense. The bottom line is if you chose to do nothing you will get nothing. It is very expensive to get a bill passed in Washington these days, and all of the trade associations have exhausted all funding to get us to this point.
We need to raise between $2 and $4 million from a pool of approximately 10,000 fishermen from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida who are expected to get a second-round payout.
The funding arithmetic goes like this: 2,000 fishermen at $2,000; 4,000 fishermen at $1,000; or every fisherman at $500. It is unlikely to get everybody to jump on board, so that option is out. 4,000 fishermen contributing represents a 50% level of participation; this scenario is also highly unlikely. Typically, in any initiative like this, we’ve only historically gotten 15-20% participation. Looking at all the facts, the best chance we have is reaching out to the 2,000 fishermen at the $2,000 level of contribution.
YOU need to decide if it is worth forwarding $2,000 of the money – that you are only holding for a few months until the tax man calls to walk away with it – to try to keep the rest of what you might not have to pay. The $2,000 level represents about 20% participation, and I know more than 20% of the fishermen received substantial first-round payments, and thus, are going to have to pay a significant amount in taxes. We know that history will repeat itself and many fishermen will do as they always do and ride on the backs of those of us who always contribute. This philosophy has always plagued the ability of any and every organization trying to improve conditions for their industry. You have to consider what is best for you, how much will YOU benefit if U.C.F.A. succeeds regardless of who gains from our work without pitching in. Understand this, U.C.F.A. has always been able to pull a rabbit out of the hat, but unless WE fund this it won;t happen. There are no more rabbits and no more hats. This one is totally up to US. The ones who paid the most should not let this opportunity pass, it is the only shot we will have, don’t let the boat leave the dock without YOU.
The associations worked hard to get you every penny possible there is: got the VOO jobs, got the VOO money taken out of the settlement, got the assessments done on trip ticket data and not tax records, got subsistence payments, and fought for larger loss percentages. All of these victories combined put hundreds of millions of dollars in the industry, and if we cannot raise $4 million between ourselves to save another $260 million in taxes, it would be a sad day for the commercial fishing industry.
How many of YOU will commit to jumping on board the tax relief boat? Please reach out to George Barisich, President of UCFA, if you’re ready to save both yourself and your industry at the same time.
He can be reached at (504) 439-2013 or firstname.lastname@example.org.