What Employers Need to Know about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act by Deanna Rader

On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”) was signed into law, and it goes into effect on April 2, 2020. It is the first relief package approved by Congress and requires certain employers to provide employees with emergency paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.

Best Practices for Taking Board Meeting Minutes

Meeting minutes need to record the proceedings in a way that is simple, unambiguous, and accurately reflects the wishes and actions of the Board. A simple rule of thumb is that minutes should contain enough detail to reflect the steps that the Board took and any critical discussions that took place. Well drafted minutes are essential evidence that the directors fulfilled their fiduciary duties. 

The Pros and Cons of Fiscal Sponsorship

Fiscal sponsorship is when a nonprofit organization accepts tax-deductible donations on behalf of another organization that does not have 501(c)(3) status.  Solicitations are made in the name of the fiscal sponsor and therefore permit the sponsored project to rely on the sponsor’s IRS determination letter, solicitation registrations, etc.

How to Claim Parking Tax Refunds

On January 21, 2020, the IRS issued guidance detailing how nonprofits can apply for refunds of the repealed “parking tax.” Recall that in December 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act imposed an unpopular and widely criticized 21% tax on employee transportation benefit expenses incurred by nonprofits. The transportation tax, or “parking tax” as it came to be known, was retroactively repealed in December of 2019. The retroactive nature of the repeal creates an opportunity for nonprofits that paid the tax to seek refunds. 

What’s New for Nonprofits in 2020

At the close of 2019, Congress passed legislation that has a significant impact on nonprofits. On December 20, 2019, the “Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020,” also known as H.R. 1865, became law. This act includes two provisions that significantly impact nonprofits:

The simplification of the excise tax on net investment income; and
The retroactive repeal of the unrelated business income tax on qualified transportation fringe benefits.

Board Quorums, Non-Profit Strategy, and Technological Innovation

Many non-profit’s use the 51% benchmark for a quorum as a concession that directors will not be able to attend all meetings, but having a majority of board members in attendance for official business ensures a representative cross-section of participation which will not simply reflect the will of a very small clique of directors.  However, organizations that value strong hands-on participation by board members may set a higher quorum requirement to encourage meeting attendance and broader participation. 

Can Your Nonprofit Board Vote by Email?

Technology now offers businesses and boards many advantages, including the ability to meet via teleconference, video conference, or even conduct discussion and voting via electronic communications, such as email.  But while email is commonplace among many organizations for its ease of use, especially for busy and geographically diverse volunteers sitting on nonprofit boards, there are several reasons to think twice before using email for your next important nonprofit board vote. 

How Often Should Your Board Meet?

At a baseline, your board needs to meet with sufficient frequency to adequately carry out your basic fiduciary and governance duties.  This includes hiring the CEO and monitoring the CEO’s performance, creating a vision and direction for the nonprofit, setting goals and monitoring their progress, developing policies and procedures, ensuring sufficient financial resources, and generally safeguarding the organization and its mission.

Can Non-Profits Use Donor Restricted Program Funds to Pay Overhead?

In non-profit finance and accounting, restricted contributions are those given by donors in which the donor intends the funds to be used for specific programs or purposes. As in all matters regarding donations, the stated intent of the donor rules when it comes to the purposes for which donation revenue can be allocated. If the donor allocates funds for program B, and states verbally or in writing that such funds cannot be used for administrative costs (back office, IT support, human resources, insurance, operations, etc.) to support such programming, than they cannot be used for that purpose. However, if no such explicit statement is made by the donor, non-profits can use a reasonable amount of the restricted funds received to pay for administrative costs allocable to the program designated by the donor.

Should Non-Profits Pay Board Members?

In a recent post, Non-Profit Urban Myths Debunked, we discredited the myth that non-profit board members cannot be paid for their service. We related that IRS regulations do allow non-profit board members to be compensated for their services. We explained: “First, non-profits can—and many do—enact board reimbursement policies for reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of board duties, such as travel to organization events, purchasing supplies for board business out of pocket, etc. Second, although most non-profit board members serve as volunteers, board members can be paid as board members for their services.”