Iowa's new tax law creates a $ 1 million headache for non-profit transfusion centers


When Republicans in Iowa approved major tax cuts last spring, they emphasized that this legislation was historic and beneficial to businesses and businesses.

The only two non-profit transfusion centers in the state, where at least 210,000 units of blood are donated each year, examine the law in depth: a financial headache of more than $ 1 million in new taxes .

Organizations – LifeServe Blood Center in Des Moines and Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center in Davenport – say Republican-led law will force them to pay new taxes on most items they use to collect, test and distribute blood which results in almost all hospitals in Iowa.

Key legislators and Governor Kim Reynolds claim to be aware of the problem and commit to solving it.

Jim Rohden, a LifeServe volunteer who carries blood and other supplies every week, is frustrated.

"It's ridiculous as a taxpayer in Iowa," said the 81-year-old retiree. "For me, it does not make sense for a nonprofit organization to be taxed."

Center staff say that until then, the price could have various ramifications. Hospitals may face higher treatment fees for blood collection, which could be passed on to patients.

Stacy Sime, President and Chief Executive Officer of LifeServe, says that operational solutions have weighed in on her since the tax bill came into effect: would they reduce the number of drivers available to carry blood? Or would it mean less staff tracking blood orders to hospitals? Sime hopes this will not happen.

"While we understood that the tax code had changed so dramatically, it was rather devastating," she said.

How taxes were levied on Iowa's transfusion centers

The new Iowa tax legislation has changed the definition of non-profit transfusion centers to a new sales and use tax on their equipment, technology and supplies.

This means that all that is used in the centers and their various branches in the state – needles that draw blood from the coolers used to transport it – must now be taxed.

Hospitals, palliative care centers and Iowa's organ procurement agencies are all exempt from this tax, placing the two non-profit transfusion centers in a unique dilemma. Iowa is one of only three states to tax non-profit transfusion centers.

"I think the Legislature understands this and is looking for a way to remedy the situation. The question is why were we even trapped? Said Mike Parejko, general manager of the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center.

Since Iowa's blood transfusion centers treat transfusions, which are considered drugs, organizations are defined as federally regulated drug manufacturers. The new Iowa law states that manufacturers can not be nonprofit. The riddle is synonymous with new taxes: LifeServe estimates that it should pay $ 750,000 in new taxes this year, and Mississippi Valley estimates that it should have paid at least $ 400,000 in new taxes.

The new language of sales and taxes was incorporated into a bill of about 130 pages that the Republican-controlled legislature passed during the final days of the legislative session. No Democrats voted for it, and Reynolds signed the measure a few weeks later.

Republicans, who continued their trio of control of the House, the Senate and the governor's office after the November 6 elections, said they were in favor of an additional bill to further change the tax policy of the country. 'Iowa. Republicans have focused on property taxes in recent weeks, although the scope of any tax legislation and its timing remain unclear.

Pat Garrett, a spokeswoman for Reynolds, said in a statement: "Governor Reynolds appreciates the work of the LifeServe Blood Center, the regional blood center of the Mississippi Valley, and hopes this issue will be resolved during this meeting. legislative session. "

What's at stake for places where Iowans donates blood

The LifeServe building in Des Moines is located a few blocks from the Iowa Capitol, in a former bank with two old chests too expensive to remove. Safes serve as a break room for employees and storage supplies.

Sime, the President and CEO, explains that she has spent a lot of time examining everything that needs to be taxed: the beige chairs used by blood donors; needles handled by staff; transparent bags where blood is stored; the computer monitors where critical data is stored to follow the direction taken by the blood. Even donated biscuits and bottled water will be part of a new spreadsheet.

The lab located on one side of the building, where blood donations are tested for health, adds to the list: tubes, trays, gloves used by staff.

At the end of the hall, a team of 24/7 employees receives hospital orders. Employees use barcode readers to mark blood bags for distribution. A large monitor nearby keeps track of volunteer and paid drivers heading in all directions of the state.

"We need to be sustainable," said Christine Hayes, vice president of operations at LifeServe. "We need to be able to collect the same amount of blood that we have collected to provide all these hospitals, the more we are under pressure with this financial constraint, the more we will be aware of the scale of what we do and what we do. what we do. " he."

Lawmakers seek to repair

Legislators are currently considering a new bill to mitigate the impact on blood centers, which they plan to adopt in the first weeks of the legislative session, which begins Monday. At least one key legislator argues that the whole situation was unforeseen.

"We intend to look at this this year and remedy this situation," said Senator Randy Feenstra, the Hull Republican who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee and helped guide legislation. tax. "We are big supporters of blood centers. They do great things for Iowans and we want to try to mitigate the problem created inadvertently. "

Feenstra also raised another possibility: passing a separate clean-up tax bill to mitigate the unintended consequences of the law, which is expected to reduce Mr. Iowans' taxes by more than $ 2 billion over the next six years .

"When you write a bill of this magnitude, different entities are inadvertently affected and we will consider that," he said.

Feenstra, which this week announced an offer on the seat of US representative Steve King, said its goal would be the Internet sales tax.

"We caught some things that we did not intend to do, and other things that we did not catch and that we should catch," he said. declared.

Representative Lee Hein, the new Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, stated that he had been informed of the problem of transfusion centers just a few weeks ago and that he was still in the process. to settle the next step.

"At this point, I did not talk to everyone, to all members, even to the Ways and Means Committee," he said. "I think it'll probably move, but I'm not sure yet."