Johnson Amendment Stays … For Now

In mid-December 2017, when the GOP Congressional leadership was scrambling to get a tax-overhaul bill in final form - one that would meld the quite different House and Senate versions - an issue that could have gone either way, in or out, was the thorny matter of 501(c)(3)s dabbling or plunging headlong into the political arena.    History of Johnson Amendment Under the 1954 Johnson Amendment to an earlier Read More

Tax Legislation: What was Left Out (Nonprofits)

In Nonprofits: What’s in the New Tax Law, we reported on the items of interest to nonprofits that had made their way into the final version of H.R.1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was signed into law at the White House. Other proposals in the legislative package dropped off, especially in the December 2017 rush to put together a tax overhaul that would pass both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The final Read More

Nonprofits: What's in the New Tax

In Nonprofits: Happy New  (Tax Plan) Year! , we caught up to date with a general overview of the whirlwind tax law changes proposed, adopted, and made effective by the federal government in late December 2017.   Some of the key concerns expressed by nonprofit organizations, experts, and advisers focused on the major changes to the standard deduction and to the federal estate tax which - many believe - will have a Read More

Nonprofits: Happy New (Tax Plan) Year!

In the hundred years or so since the modern federal income tax was first established in 1913, there have been several comprehensive overhauls. Congress, seeing the need to fix problems or meet new and changing conditions, acted. The most recent significant revision of the Internal Revenue Code was in 1986 when President Reagan, the Treasury Department, and Congress worked for almost two years to develop and write a Read More

Grants to Foreign Organizations: New Guidance

Private foundations have different - more stringent -  rules and requirements than 501(c)(3) organizations that are classified as public charities. The reason for this distinction: Foundations don’t solicit or receive donations from a wide swath of the general public, so there are special rules and regulations to ensure proper oversight. This is a particular concern for United States foundations that seek to assist Read More

What Does “Lessening the Burdens of Government” Mean?

The year 2018 is shaping up to likely include dramatic cuts in government funding for social services. In order to lessen the impact on tens of millions of Americans, there will need to be a response by donors and the philanthropic community in the form of new organizations - or expansion of existing ones - to focus on the "exempt" purpose of "lessening the burdens of government."  The pivotal federal tax-exemption Read More

Public Disclosure of 990s: What You Need to Know

When you file your personal income tax return each April 15th, you're entitled to secrecy about it unless you choose to show it to another person, submit it to a bank, or send it out to the general public with a flashy press release. For a 501(c)(3) organization, the rules are different: A tax-exempt group must make its Form 990 information return available upon request to the general public. These disclosure Read More

Nonprofits and The Tax Bills: A Half-Time Update

Since the first days of January 2017, the party in control of both the White House and Congress has promised a major overhaul of the federal tax code. Until the first week of November 2017, when the House GOP leadership unveiled the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” (H.R.1), there was little more than informed speculation about the particulars.      November Action on Tax Bills The sheer number and scope of proposals directly Read More

Charitable Deduction Substantiation: Redux

“Redux”: Something “brought back.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) Back in February 2017, we posted “...a cautionary tale for everyone out there who wants to take a $65-million charitable deduction. Or a $250 deduction. Or whatever.” Follow the rules, we advised. “‘It is not exactly rocket science.’” There are hoops to jump through - not particularly complex or onerous ones - to substantiate a claimed deduction. Read More

A Form 990 Audit: What Triggers It?

It’s a classic “cart before the horse” scenario. Last year, in our 6-part When the Revenue Agent Comes Calling series, we discussed how the government official will use the IRS’s Form 14114, "Governance Check Sheet," to conduct an audit of your organization: An IRS revenue agent knocking at the door of a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt, organization will have in hand that agency’s Form 14114, Governance Check Sheet, that Read More