Legal Representation For Public Charities
If you’re a fan of John Oliver’s HBO series “Last Week Tonight,” then you’ve heard about his church, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, and its haul of fake ( a check for $65 billion, for example) and real donations. OLPE’s impressive fundraising – and its presumed exemption from income taxes – highlights the problems Oliver perceives with the IRS’s rules on tax-exemption for religious organizations. And the IRS may be having enforcement difficulties in this area – according to the Washington Post, the IRS suspended audits on churches from 2009 to 2013, and audited only three churches between 2013 and 2014.
But if you are an officer or director of a non-profit organization, you should not be lulled into thinking that your exemption will be as perpetual as liver’s – you can lose your 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status if you fail to follow the rules regarding private benefit, lobbying and political activity, unrelated business income, annual reporting obligations, and operating in accordance with your organization’s stated exempt purpose.
A business-law attorney can help charitable organizations, including religious, social welfare, and veterans’ organizations, along with schools and universities, trade associations, and scientific groups to understand and comply with the laws governing tax-exempt organizations. A business-law attorney can also advise on matters pertaining to the formation of non-profit entities and best practices for non-profit management and governance, or advise when special circumstances arise – such as long-term capital projects, expenditure-responsibility requirements, social investments, and endowments.
And for general information about the process for obtaining and maintaining tax-exemption, you can review IRS Publication 557, Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization.