The IRS’ continuing delays in launching the CyberAssistant program have left many would be nonprofit founders struggling with the question of whether CyberAssistant and its promise of significantly lower filing fees is worth the wait. Due to the ongoing delays and lack of information regarding an expected launch date, we think not.
Finding support and funding in the nonprofit world is often more challenging than finding funding for a for-profit venture. In addition, contrary to the belief of many nonprofit founders, foundation grant dollars do not grow on trees and are, in fact, the most competitive and scarce source of funding available.
To qualify as a U.S. “Friends of” affiliate of a foreign charity, U.S. law dictates how the U.S. organization must relate to its foreign affiliate. Under United States tax law, U.S. Friends of organizations must be operated independently of the foreign organizations they support.
The term “Fiscal Sponsorship” describes an arrangement between a non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status and a project, often a new charitable effort, conducted by an organization, group, or an individual that does not have 501(c)(3) status. Fiscal sponsorship permits the exempt sponsor to accept funds restricted for the sponsored project on the project’s behalf. The sponsor, in turn, accepts the responsibility to ensure the funds are properly spent to achieve the project’s goals. This arrangement is useful for new charitable endeavors that want to “test the waters” before deciding whether to form an independent entity as well as temporary projects or coalitions that are looking for a neutral party to administer their funds.
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.
Here’s a tip for nonprofits planning to apply for tax exempt status: submit the application for exemption in 2009, before […]
As discussed in last week’s Nonprofit Law Jargon Buster, there are some organizations that are, by their very nature, considered “public.” These include churches, schools, and hospitals. Other types of charitable organizations must pass one of two mathematical tests calculated on a four year rolling average to qualify is public.
Forming a nonprofit corporation is not the same as being tax-exempt. To obtain 501(c)(3) status, newly formed entities must apply to the IRS for a formal determination of exemption. Entities seeking 501(c)(3) status apply by filing Form 1023. (Entities seeking exemption under other sections of 501(c) file Form 1024.)
Newly formed organizations applying for exemption face a chicken and egg dilemma. Form 1023 requests considerable detail regarding the charity’s planned programs and activities. The attitude of the IRS is that requiring applicants to articulate detailed plans is a small price to pay for the significant tax benefits associated with 501(c)(3) status.
I receive several calls a week from people who want to start a new non-profit. Looking back on my legal career, I realize that many of the tax-exempt organizations I helped to create early on never got off the ground. Today, I consider it part of my responsibility to the potential new client and to the sector to educate would be founders on the realities of the marketplace. What follows is a walk through the typical discussion that I have with potential founders.
The I.R.S. has made the guidelines it provides to its exempt organization determination specialists for processing tax exemption applications publicly available.