The Marc Center is a thriving, creative and innovative nonprofit that is thinking strategically about how to achieve its mission through both nonprofit and for-profit ventures that provide vocational opportunities for its clients. The Marc Center is providing vocational opportunities in the areas of food service, packaging services, mailing, filing, and other low tech vocations. During my visit, I had a delicious lunch at a Banner Health facility where a Marc Center of Mesa subsidiary is in charge of food service and even provides catering. Across the country, ventures like these are commonly referred to as double bottom line “social enterprises” because they are making money and fulfilling a social mission at the same time.
The distinction between employee and independent contractor lies in the ability of the employer to determine how work will be performed. For identification purposes, an employee is generally considered to be anyone who performs a service for the employer if the employer can control what will be done and how it will be done. In contrast, an independent contractor is someone who follows an independent trade and offers their services to the public. The person for whom the services are performed has the right to control or determine the result of the work, not how that result is achieved.
Essentially, the “commensurate test” requires 501(c)(3) organizations to conduct charitable activities commensurate in scope with their resources. The idea is that donors fund charities to do charitable works, not to amass a fortune with no clear plan of how the funds will be spent.
Arizona recently amended its gambling laws to make it easier for political organizations, political clubs, booster clubs, and civic clubs […]
Two types of relief are available for small exempt organizations – a filing extension for the smallest organizations required to file Form 990-N, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard), and a Voluntary Compliance Program for small organizations eligible to file Form 990-EZ , Short Form Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. Small organizations required to file Form 990-N simply need to go to the IRS website, supply the eight information items called for on the form, and electronically file it by Oct. 15, 2010.
Under the Voluntary Compliance Program, larger tax-exempt organizations eligible to file Form 990-EZ (but not eligible to file Form 990-N) must file their delinquent annual information returns by October 15 and pay a compliance fee which is between $100 and $500 depending upon the organization’s revenues. Details about the VCP are on the IRS website , along with frequently asked questions.
Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, is a deeply disturbing book that somehow manages to disgust, inspire and move the reader to action at the same time. The book is a thoroughly researched portrait of the systematic cultural suppression of women around the world on a scale that is virtually unimaginable to the average American. The authors confront the harsh realities of taboo topics such as female trafficking, fistula and AIDs epidemics, rape as a war tactic, honor killings, vaginal cutting, and blatant educational and economic bias.
Before 1996, the only option the IRS had when faced with a tax-exempt organization that had violated the private inurement rules was to do nothing or to revoke the organization’s tax-exempt status, a penalty that often punished the organization’s beneficiaries more than the insiders who benefited from the inurement. To cure this problem, Code Section 4958 was added to the Internal Revenue Code in 1996 to provide the IRS with an “intermediate” tool between the extremes of either ignoring the problem or revoking the nonprofit’s tax-exempt status.
Officers and directors of nonprofit corporations who ignore the articles of incorporation and bylaws are setting themselves up to to be on the losing side of a lawsuit.
3. Think Big. Boards without great leadership can get bogged down in the minutia. The minutia include the compliance and oversight responsibilities of the board. While it’s important to do these things well, it’s not the organization’s raison d’être. Great board chairs help steer the board clear of this phenomenon by keeping the board focused on their vision of the impact the board wants to make on the community the organization serves. Great board chairs understand that focusing on the organization’s breakthrough goals rather than busywork keeps the board energized and engaged.
The defining characteristic of a private foundation is donor control. Private foundations are usually privately created, funded, and operated by a single individual, family, or company. As a result, private foundations are generally not dependent upon the support of outside donors and are therefore not subject to the same degree of public scrutiny as public charities that depend on outside funding for their survival.
Too often, nonprofits include provisions in their bylaws that are old-fashioned, unnecessary, redundant, or that complicate rather than streamline governance.
Monday was the deadline for small nonprofits to file overdue Form 990s or face loss of tax-exempt status. Notwithstanding Monday’s deadline , Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Doug Shulman said the agency will do what it can for small charities to keep their exemptions in a statement released on Tuesday.
It is important to take a thoughtful approach when drafting or revising bylaws. Boards and board committees sometimes spend months or even years trying to draft the perfect set of bylaws . Too often, they look to bylaws of other nonprofit organizations or samples gleaned from the Internet with no regard to whether the bylaws match the structure and style of the organization or comply with state and federal law. Unfortunately, this approach usually leads to confusion, delay, and conflict on the board. The better practice is to work with a knowledgeable attorney from the beginning, starting with a compliant template, and tailoring it to the needs of your organization.
Review of “Prepare Your Own 501(c)(3) Application” by Sandy Deja
In 2003, the number of applications for exemption had gone up by over 40% with no corresponding increase in the number of IRS Exempt Organization employees. This motivated the IRS to consider how to streamline the application for exemption process to make processing easier for both the IRS and the applicant. The IRS invited a panel of experts from the nonprofit legal community to make recommendations to improve the application process. The panel’s key recommendation was that the IRS revive earlier plans to develop and fund an interactive online Form 1023 filing tool accessible through the IRS website known as the “Cyber Assistant.”
UPDATE: On May 7, 2010, IRS announced in IRS Exempt Organization Update 2010-11, that Cyber Assistant is delayed – no release this year.
As part of the Pension Protection Act passed in 1996, Congress added a new penalty for tax-exempt organizations that fail to file their annual return for three years in a row. Formerly, the only penalty was a monetary penalty. The new law has upped the ante to impose the ultimate penalty: loss of exemption. The penalty applies to organizations that fail to file Form 990, Form 990-EZ, as well as the relatively new Form 990-N. Form 990-N is a relatively new form that must be filed by tax-exempt organizations whose revenues normally fall below $25,000. Organizations that have their status revoked may apply for reinstatement based on reasonable cause for the failure to file. The first three year period is 2007 through 2009, which means that once the 2010 filing deadline passes for these forms (May 15, 2010 for tax-exempt organizations with calendar fiscal years), organizations that failed to file their Form 990s forms for those three years will automatically lose their tax-exempt status.
The benefit corporation concept has some similarities to the L3C model but is geared toward corporations rather than LLCs. Like the L3C, benefit corporations pursue a mission that goes beyond making a profit for owners and investors. Importantly, it also provides legal protection for board members that consider social and environmental issues when making decisions on behalf of the corporation.
Every year the IRS releases its “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams. The list serves both as a warning of scams for taxpayers to avoid as well as a reminder of the IRS’ investigation and enforcement role. This year, the list includes “Abuse of Charitable Organizations and Deductions” .
To help stimulate the hiring of workers by the private sector, the new law exempts any private-sector (meaning non-governmental) employer that hires a worker who had been unemployed for at least 60 days from having to pay the employer’s 6.2% share of the Social Security payroll tax on that employee for the remainder of 2010. A company could save a maximum of $6,621 if it hires an unemployed worker and pays that worker at least $106,800—the maximum amount of wages subject to Social Security taxes—by the end of the year. The benefit is available to both for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations.
An executive committee can be an effective governance tool, but not every board needs one. Executive committees should never ever replace the full board.