Huge EO Scandals: Elusive Federal Oversight

In recent years, there’s been an almost perfect storm of conditions for people - famous, infamous, and otherwise - to commit wrongdoing through exempt organizations (EOs) but escape scrutiny or consequences.  As the details of each high-profile scandal are splashed across the headlines, we collectively wonder whether any agency or official will take action about what seem to be brazen violations of the laws and Read More

The Political Ban: A Timely Recap for 501(c)(3)s, Part Two

The “Johnson Amendment” - the 501(c)(3) political ban - has been discussed and debated ad nauseum for decades.  This is it: “... which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” That’s all. The whole enchilada.  This snippet of prohibition, this dollop of don't even Read More

The Political Ban: A Timely Recap for 501(c)(3)s, Part One

“It’s almost always election season in the United States.” The polls close on one contest but, by dawn the next morning, “the chatter begins about re-election bids and new opponents.” By the time that primary-election votes are being counted, that chatter turns into a frenzy of 24/7 media coverage and analysis as well as a blizzard of candidate advertisements on TV, radio, the internet, and social media. “We in Read More

Poof! The Nonprofit Parking Tax is Gone

In mid-December, our Congressional representatives scurried to avert another government shutdown like the disastrous one a year ago. They made the deadline just in time for the Christmas recess. Tossed into the final appropriations package were a few surprise holiday gifts for nonprofit organizations.   Members of our sector were thrilled to learn that lawmakers had retroactively repealed the “hugely unpopular” Read More

Should a Hate Group Have a Tax Exemption?

Every few days or so, there’s another hate-group-fueled shooting rampage in the United States. In a long-overdue move, the FBI recently designated the white-supremacy movement as the greatest domestic-terrorism threat of our era.  Along with growing public concern about the rising death toll is a sense of outrage against the extremist organizations that promote and encourage these violent acts. And many of these Read More

The Charitable Deduction: Then and Now

There are two intriguing and important recent articles about the history of the U.S. charitable deduction and how it can - and should - evolve in the future.  The first paper is by Dr. Nicolas J. Duquette: Founders’ Fortunes and Philanthropy: A History of the U.S. Charitable-Contribution Deduction (August 27, 2019), Cambridge University Press.  Professor Duquette argues that, despite significant changes in the Read More

Disclosure of Donors: Latest Update

If you aren’t clear about whether a tax-exempt organization must disclose its donors or not, the rest of us say: “Welcome to the club.”   It’s been a roller coaster ride of twists and turns for the past 18 months or so; confusion is the new normal on this issue. But now’s a good time to sum up what’s been going on, particularly because the federal government has just issued proposed new regulations that need Read More

Mandatory e-Filing for 990s on the Way

Pending legislation in Congress will, if passed, affect tax-exempt organizations in two ways: (1) it will make e-filing the mandatory method for all exempt organizations for filing any required information returns, including the Form 990 Series, and (2) it will require the Internal Revenue Service to send a notice to organizations which have missed filing two consecutive information returns before it’s too late to Read More

The Parsonage Allowance: Constitutional, Once Again

“I assume it's not just me who checks the 7th Circuit opinion pages multiple times a day to see whether the #ParsonageAllowance decision has been issued yet. I mean, everybody's checking, right?” [Tweet 1/23/19 1:58 pm @smbrsun ] In the fall of 2018, Sam Brunson sat in the federal courthouse in Chicago watching the oral argument hearing in Gaylor v. Mnuchin.  In the following months, he eagerly awaited the Read More

Group Exemptions: New Procedure

For the many 501(c)(3) organizations around the nation that have group - rather than individual - tax exemptions, the Internal Revenue Service has announced an important, but not widely publicized, procedural change in the annual reporting requirements. The parent - or “central” - organizations should take note of, and act on, this information immediately. Group Exemptions as Administrative Convenience A Read More