Thursday, April 25, 2024

Tax-Exempt Organizations and Antisemitism

Naturally, Darryll beat me to the punch. Yesterday, he blogged about a letter from the Ways and Means Committee to the IRS asking primarily about tax-exempt organizations with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

But then, in the middle, as Darryll notes, there's a strange diversion into questions of antisemitism and tax-exempt organizations. In one paragraph in the middle of the letter, the House writes,

Continue reading

April 25, 2024 in Federal – Legislative, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 15, 2024

Legislative Inquiry into Nonprofit Litigation Decisions

Sunday night, Senators Warren and Whitehouse sent a letter to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, demanding the Chamber answer questions about its litigation challenging a CFPB rule capping late fees at $8.

The Chamber is a nonprofit membership organization claiming to "represent[] the unified interests of U.S. business before Congress, government agencies, and the courts," but the Senators' question whether the Chamber "is not adequately representing its membership." The Senators doubt that the lawsuit is, in fact, representative of "the broad range of Main Street businesses, or their customers," suggesting that, "[i]nstead, the 'Chamber is again doing the dirty work of its big bank members,' such as JPMorgan, Citi, and Bank of America." Thus, the Senators ask the Chamber: "Did the Chamber conduct a vote or otherwise receive input from its members before deciding to file this lawsuit? a. If so, how did it do so? b. What did the opinions received by the Chamber indicate about members' opposition or support for the rule?"

Of course, concepts of representation for a nonprofit organization--even a membership-based organization--are rarely straightforward, as members rarely weigh in directly on specific policy positions, and members come and go for reasons that often have little to do with a single piece of litigation. (Counterexamples do exist: thousands of AARP members quit the organization after its support for the Affordable Care Act, and thousands of ACLU members left the organization due to objections to representation of Nazis in a free speech case although in both instances the nonprofit stood by its principles/stubbornly defied accountability to its members). "Who do we represent?" is a tough question that nonprofit leaders should constantly be asking themselves; it's much less clear that Congress has (or should have) much to say on the question.

The Senators' letter makes two further criticisms of the Chamber's litigation. First, it argues that the claims are frivolous. Second, it calls the Chamber out for being caught forum-shopping: adding a local chamber of commerce with dubious standing to file in a court believed to be advantageous to the challenge. (The district court granted a motion to transfer the case to the District of Columbia, only to have the Fifth Circuit issue a mandamus preventing transfer for the time being). Forum-shopping in cases challenging federal agency decisions is not novel, but it has come under consistent and increasing criticism--from across the political spectrum--with special attention being paid to forum-shopping in Texas federal courts specifically.

My two cents: Publicly criticizing a nonprofit for its litigation choices (especially when it is caught engaging in rather transparent forum-shopping) is one thing, but demanding details of the nonprofit's internal decisionmaking related to that litigation is quite another.

-Joseph Mead

April 15, 2024 in Federal – Judicial, Federal – Legislative | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

More on SAFE SPACE v. Commissioner

Yesterday, I blogged about SAFE SPACE’s declaratory judgment suit, in which they are seeking recognition of tax-exempt status despite the fact that they plan to endorse candidates on their website. I mentioned that I had been planning (with Sam Brunson) to create a 501(c)(3) organization that would endorse a candidate on an affiliate 501(c)(4) organization’s website. And I said that the difference between our approach and theirs “may seem like a difference without a distinction” but that it is “probably quite significant.” So, why is it significant?

First, important to both approaches are two ideas: (1) the Constitution protects charities’ right to endorse candidates, while also (2) the government has a legitimate interest in preventing charities from using their government-provided subsidies to pay for such endorsements. As I mentioned yesterday, the tension between these two ideas – and the solution to vindicating them both – comes from the Supreme Court’s Taxation With Representation case and the DC Circuit’s Branch Ministries case, both of which affirmed both ideas. The solution described in those cases is the one Sam and I planned to adopt in our “test case” organization: have the 501(c)(3) charity use a 501(c)(4) affiliate to pay the costs of publicizing the endorsement. This structure has sometimes been called the “Alternate Channel Doctrine,” because the use of a 501(c)(4) affiliate was described in Taxation With Representation as an “alternate means” for the charity to communicate its views. If all the expenses are paid for by the 501(c)(4) affiliate, then the case is strongest that the charity is not using its subsidized funds to intervene in a campaign. It permits the government to fulfil its legitimate purpose of “nonsubvention.”

SAFE SPACE has chosen not to use this “alternate means” to communicate its endorsements, but instead to publicize them on the charity’s own website. It concedes that the website will “be developed and hosted for a low, flat fee” and that there will be no “additional expense for developing and hosting additional pages or materials on its website.” (emphasis added). It then claims that, “[t]he cost to SAFE SPACE of endorsing candidates and publishing its endorsements will be zero.” Well, which is it? A “low, flat fee” or “zero”? These two apparently inconsistent statements can be made consistent by adopting a specific theory of what it means for the cost of an endorsement to be zero. In my 2009 article, I called that theory a “marginal cost” paradigm, explaining that proponents of that paradigm argue that speech or action has no cost if it can be accomplished without making any additional expenditures beyond those already being made for other purposes. If the organization is already developing and hosting a website for its educational purposes, and no additional cost is required to post an endorsement, then the cost of endorsing candidates is zero.

As I mentioned yesterday, SAFE SPACE argued that it couldn’t use the affiliate-organization structure because that would impose “insurmountable” administrative burdens on the fledgling charity. SAFE SPACE therefore is taking the position that (1) the affiliate organization structure is unnecessary because a government subsidy has only been used when there is a marginal cost to the organization, and (2) forcing an organization to create an affiliate is such a substantial administrative obstacle that it constitutes an undue burden on the charity’s speech rights.

If SAFE SPACE could persuade the Tax Court to adopt its marginal cost theory of campaign expenditures, that could be very important for 501(c)(3) organizations going forward. Over a decade ago, at the request of Senator Charles Grassley, the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations (CAPRO) proposed legislative reform to permit 501(c)(3) organizations to engage in low-cost electoral speech, like the endorsement SAFE SPACE proposes. Republicans in Congress have repeatedly proposed the Free Speech Fairness Act, modeled on CAPRO’s recommendations, but it has never been adopted. But scholars like Ellen Aprill have pointed out that in an “age of cheap speech,” permitting all low or no-cost political speech under a marginal cost paradigm would open the floodgates to extensive use of charitable funds (and therefore government subsidy) in electoral speech. Under this theory, as long as the organization was promoting its charitable message, it could include its electoral message so long as that message had no marginal cost. In addition to the website that SAFE SPACE plans to operate, charities could use newsletters, email blasts, paid social media posts, television advertisements, and paid door-to-door educators to promote their views. Scholars like Sam Brunson, Roger Colinvaux, Edward Zelinsky, Nina Crimm, and Laurence Winer have all attempted to address the same problem. There’s no easy answer, but I think the use of an affiliated 501(c)(4) organization does a better job of balancing speech rights with our collective interest in nonsubvention, and that the administrative burden that imposes on a small charity like SAFE SPACE is therefore warranted.

I think that’s what’s at stake in this tiny organization’s declaratory judgment case.

-Benjamin Leff

March 26, 2024 in Federal – Judicial, Federal – Legislative | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 19, 2024

Trifecta Follow-up to Title IX, NIL Collectives, and NRA Trial

This fine Friday, I have follow-up mini posts about all three of the things I blogged about this week: Title IX, NIL collectives, and the NRA trail. So, in reverse chronological order, here they are:

Yesterday, I wrote about the suit against Hillsdale college asserting that it was subject to Title IX regulation on account of its tax-exempt status. My colleague Darryll Jones alerted me to a press release from Senator Marco Rubio on Wednesday announcing proposed legislation to clarify that tax exemption is not “Federal financial assistance” for the purpose of Title IX. Obviously, if the legislation passes, that clarifies the law. But our legislative branch is not designed to easily pass legislation, and (it sure seems like) that the problem is worse these days, so I think it’s likely courts will probably have to make up their own mind what the original statute means.

On Wednesday, I wrote about NIL collectives, and got a very good series of questions from a commenter that I think are worth answering. A reader commented, “How do they determine the amount of the payments to avoid them being classified as excess benefit payments?  Do equal payments have to be paid to all players on the team?  How do you determine if one player's NIL is more valuable than another? I heard that Univ. of Texas is paying $50,000 to new football linemen; can they pay this to certain players and not to others?”

The answer to the first question is easy: “excess benefit” payments (if this is meant in its technical sense to refer to “excess benefit transaction” penalties in the Tax Code) occur between an organization and “disqualified persons” (people who have some level of control over the organization). Players are unlikely to be disqualified persons, so payments between NIL collectives and players will probably never be “excess benefit” payments. That’s why the question for NIL collectives is whether there too much private benefit, not whether there is any “inurement.” Honestly, if I were to try to identify the five most important things to understand about nonprofit law (for the students who take my introductory class, for example) this line between inurement and private benefit is definitely on the list, and so I can’t help point it out, even at the risk of fetishizing the phrase “excess benefit.”

But charities still have an obligation not to make excessively large payments to private persons who are not “disqualified persons,” notwithstanding the fact that “excess benefit” is technically the wrong word for such payments. As a state law matter, this obligation is found somewhere in the duty of care or the duty of obedience, the concept of “waste,” or in statutes that try to clarify this obligation. Some people (including the IRS) think that this duty is also reflected in the Federal-law concept of “excess private benefit.” Jurist Richard Posner famously proposed that idea (in dicta) in his opinion in the United Cancer Council case. This is also plausibly what the IRS means when it says that private benefit can be excessive either quantitatively or qualitatively. As I mentioned on Wednesday, Hail! Impact (the charitable NIL collective that has received IRS approval of tax-exempt status) solves the quantitative problem by only using 30% of its fund expenditures to pay NIL fees to athletes and uses the other 70% for truly charitable expenditures. But that 30/70 solution doesn’t solve the “qualitative” problem.

So, how should a charitable NIL collective make sure that it is not providing an excessive private benefit to athletes qualitatively through the wrong structure of its individual payments? The answer is: hard to know. The theory should be that it’s pretty safe if it pays them “fair market value” for the rights. That’s what American University (my employer, a charity) does when it decides how much to pay me. It tries to figure out what the market would bear, and then (if my economic theory serves me in this case) pays me the lowest it can get away with to keep me from jumping ship and to motivate me to do whatever it is that it wants me to do. So, as to the question of whether the NIL collective must (or can) pay the same amount to all players or must (or can) pay each player based on the value of their individual NIL, the default answer should be that it makes more sense to pay them based on an evaluation of their individual NIL value. But, of course, if the collective thinks that it can get away with paying all players the same amount, and if it thinks that’s good for the team or school, I can’t think of an argument for why that would violate the “private benefit” doctrine (or the directors’ state-law duty of care or obedience). But because the “qualitative” aspect of the private benefit doctrine is so under-developed as a legal matter, I’m not sure there is a clear answer to how it would apply in this case. Now that the IRS Chief Counsel’s office is focused on NIL collectives (as evidenced by the pretty quick and excellent Memorandum), I could imagine them using this opportunity to provide some guidance on their interpretation of the question. But, just like with Congress clarifying the scope of Title IX, I wouldn’t hold my breath. They’ve got a lot of other legitimate priorities, to say the least.

On Tuesday, I wrote about the expert testimony given by Jeffrey Tenenbaum in the NRA case. It was pointed out to me that there is some tension in what I wrote (that I wasn’t really aware of) about the purpose of Mr. Tenenbaum’s testimony: whether it was to establish “customary” practices among nonprofits or “best” practices. As I pointed out in the first paragraph, the court permitted his testimony about “what is regular and customary in the nonprofit sector.” But then in that same paragraph, I said he testified that “best practices” counsel against boards of more than 30 members because large boards make it “impossible [for individual board members] to fulfill their duties.” That’s a confusing quote because “best practices” is a quote of my source, NRA Watch, which said that “Tenenbaum said that best practices typically dictated an ideal non-profit board size of between 12 and 20 people.” But it did not quote him as using the term “best practices.” Instead it quoted him as saying that if a board has more than 30 people, it “becomes impossible [for individual board members] to fulfill your duties.” Anyway, in case it was confusing at all, I changed my own sentence in my final paragraph to clarify that I think it is valuable for juries to be educated about customary practices in the nonprofit sector, and that I’m glad Mr. Tenenbaum did that in this case. Although, obviously, it is still true that the jury will have to apply the legal standard, not whether NRA practices are “customary” or not.

Benjamin Leff

January 19, 2024 in Current Affairs, Federal – Judicial, Federal – Legislative, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Taxpayer Advocate Proposes Repeal of IRC 170 Contemporaneous Substantiation Requirement

The National Taxpayer Advocate publishes a list of legislative recommendations each year in a publication called the Purple Book.   This year's version contains "a concise summary of 66 legislative recommendations that the National Taxpayer Advocate believes will strengthen taxpayer rights and improve tax administration. Most of the recommendations have been made in detail in prior reports, but others are presented in this book for the first time. The Advocate believes that most of the recommendations presented in this volume are non-controversial, common-sense reforms that the tax-writing committees, other committees, and other members of Congress may find useful."  Here is recommendation number 59:

Purple Book_Page_1

Purple Book_Page_2

darryll k. jones

 

 

 

January 16, 2024 in Federal – Legislative | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Pell Grants and Wealthy Universities

This morning, Inside Higher Ed reported on a bipartisan House bill that would allow students in short (8-14- week) career training programs to receive Pell Grants. There has been some controversy over the idea--questioning, for example, whether the short-term training would pay of and whether students at for-profit programs should have access--but support for the move has been growing.

But the House's "Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act" (which honestly, what a disappointing name: "BWPA" doesn't spell anything; I'm old enough to remember when Congress came up with an acronym and then awkwardly stuck in words that would spell that acronym!) included one surprise: its funding mechanism.

See, the expansion is potentially expensive. So the House decided that, to fund it, the bill would remove eligibility for Pell Grants from any student attending a school subject to the excise tax on university endowments (basically, any school that has an endowment of $500,000 or more per student; it applies to an estimated 50 schools). 

I'm not going to give a blow-by-blow of reasons different groups support or oppose the bill--Inside Higher Ed's article does an excellent job with that. I will note, though, that it faces a steep climb when it arrives at the Senate. And also, that it seems to reflect a bipartisan skepticism of the value of elite higher education. Where will this go? We'll have to watch.

Samuel D. Brunson

December 12, 2023 in Current Affairs, Federal – Legislative, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oversight Hearing on the Growth of The Tax Exempt Sector and Politics Tomorrow

Pope Francis Quote: “Politics is noble; it is one of the highest forms of  charity, as Paul VI used to say. We sully it when we mix it with bu...”

No word yet on who the witnesses might be, but its probably worth tuning into tomorrow's Oversight hearing on the growth of civil society and the impact on politics.  Here is the announcement:

Chairman Smith and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Schweikert Announce Subcommittee Hearing on Growth of the Tax-Exempt Sector and the Impact on the American Political Landscape

House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman David Schweikert (AZ-01) announced today that the Subcommittee on Oversight will hold a hearing to examine the tax-exempt sector and its impact on American politics. The hearing will take place on Wednesday, December 13, 2023, at 2:00 PM in 1100 Longworth House Office Building.

Members of the public may view the hearing via live webcast available at https://waysandmeans.house.gov. The webcast will not be available until the hearing starts.

In view of the limited time available to hear the witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.

DETAILS FOR SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS:

Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit written comments for the hearing record can do so here: [email protected].

Please ATTACH your submission as a Microsoft Word document in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by the close of business on Wednesday, December 27, 2023.  For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-3625.

FORMATTING REQUIREMENTS:

The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission but reserves the right to format it according to guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any materials
submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.

All submissions and supplementary materials must be submitted in a single document via email, provided in Word format and must not exceed a total of 10 pages. Please indicate the title of the hearing as the subject line in your submission. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. The name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness must be included in the body of the email. Please exclude any personal identifiable information in the attached submission. Failure to follow the formatting requirements may result in the exclusion of a submission. All submissions for the record are final.

 

darryll k. jones

 

December 12, 2023 in Federal – Legislative | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 11, 2023

A Very Bad Day For Civil Society

Fallout to testimony from presidents of Harvard and University of  Pennsylvania

Don't "over lawyer" your witness.  I learned that the hard way as an Army JAG years ago.  I don’t know about the other branches but if you want to be a military litigator, or just a litigator, go Army.  You study, train and practice every small detail of trial practice.  Still, the most painful lessons are learned on the fly. In actual trial, when something bad happens. Like when a witness you prepped, rehearsed, and prepared several times over freezes, explodes or disintegrates.  Its true, you really can over lawyer a witness.   You can drill her testimony with so much detail and script that the witness ends up stumbling over all that detailed script you drilled.  Or worse. If your witness is a type A overachiever all her life she won't stumble at all.  She will nail the script.  If she is accustomed to getting As, she will stick to the script long after the script is exposed as absurd.  The script drilled so deeply into the witness' brain that she doesn't perceive the absurdity because she's intent on articulating the string of words in your script.  Instead of just answering the question, in this case with a simple "yes." That must be what happened to the presidents from Harvard, Penn, and MIT last week.  They had to be the three smartest witnesses assembled in one place since Oppenheimer and colleagues before the House Un-American Activities Committee.  And yet . . . well, we all saw it.  I cringed because their good-enough-for-law-school answers – “it depends” -- told me right away they had been over lawyered.

And I'll tell you what.  That over lawyered testimony -- just a few minutes of 5 hours of testimony -- did incalculable damage to any effort towards preventing the hysterical shutting up of civil society.  It was a real setback.  Civil society got slaughtered.

darryll k. jones

December 11, 2023 in Federal – Legislative | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

A Follow-Up on Late Night Musings: More on The Charitable Act

Lo and behold, I opened up Tax Notes Today (subscription required) this morning and found an article on the Charitable Giving Coalition’s position on the renewal of the above the line charitable deduction, which I discussed in my post yesterday.

The Tax Notes article notes that the Charitable Giving Coalition sent a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee in support of The Charitable Act. The Charitable Act reinstates the above the line charitable deduction, increases the limitation from $300 to one-third of the then standard deduction, and permits gifts to donor advised funds.  In support of the need for the Act, the Charitable Giving Coalition noted in its letter (cited in Tax Notes) that

Giving trends from 2020 and 2021, when the temporary non-itemizer charitable deduction was in place, indicate the deduction works. According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, charitable gifts of $300 — the cap of the temporary deduction in 2020 — increased by 28 percent on the last day of the year. Furthermore, interim Internal Revenue Service data for tax year 2021 shows 47 million households used the non-itemizer charitable deduction for donations totaling around $18 billion. A higher deduction cap, as included in the Charitable Act, would encourage even more charitable giving in communities across the country.

While I am generally in favor of reviving the above the line deduction, I’m dubious that this thinking holds. The primary beneficiaries of the above the line deduction are lower and middle income tax payers, If the “universal” deduction (which isn’t universal because it’s not available to those who itemized…) is increased, then the question is whether individuals who don’t itemize have the financial ability to make significantly larger contributions.  There is a marked difference in $300 and $4600, the estimate for the higher deduction.  I’d also be curious to know how much of the $300 giving is giving that’s already occurred and is just being captured for the first time in tax statistics – things like the weekly contributions to the church plate and such not.  Maybe the last $25 dollars given on Giving Tuesday, but I’d be curious where the incentive effect of increase in the universal deduction tails off.  Probably an interesting project to look at…

Curiously, eww

November 29, 2023 in Current Affairs, Federal – Legislative, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Some Late Night Reflections on Giving Tuesday

If you are like me, your inbox today is filled with emails from nonprofits looking for donations – Giving Tuesday has been in full swing.  I’ll admit to being somewhat cynical about Giving Tuesday.   I support the charities I support during the year and I don’t need a special day to do it.  I suppose one could see it as a day of penance for the twin orgies of commercialism known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  I am, however, without shame and feel no need to buy any indulgences on Giving Tuesday for my recent overconsumption.

But it would appear that I’m alone in my cynicism and that’s a good thing – no one needs curmudgeons like me grumbling about such things!   GivingTuesday.org tracks the impact of Giving Tuesday on charitable donations.   There are a number of interesting observations in the information collected in their Data Commons about giving trends, including the impact of Giving Tuesday.   According to one of their reports, Giving Tuesday enhances giving among supporters, grows existing relationships, and importantly, engages younger volunteers.

Givewp.com, citing the 2022 GivingTuesday.com study, states that

  • In 2022, donors in the United States gave $3.1 billion on Giving Tuesday, 15% more than in 2021
  • More than 20 million people gave, with 6% more donors in 2022 than in 2021
  • 82% of nonprofits that participated in Giving Tuesday tried something new
  • #GivingTuesday trends annually on social media
  • More than $1 billion of U.S. Giving Tuesday donations were contributed online

That lead me to think about a potentially tax law significant change that occurred between 2022 and 2021 – that being the sunset of the $300 above the line deduction for cash charitable gifts from the CARES Act.  It seems like that particular deduction would be beneficial to the folks that Giving Tuesday targets – smaller, younger, and online donors.  That deduction hasn’t been in effect for 2022 and 2023, but there is at least some noise about trying to bring it back.  There have been a number of bills trying to revive and maybe even increase the deduction – you can find a summary of them at the Charitable Giving Coalition website here.   The most recent bill would reinstate the deduction for 2023 and 2024 but increase the limit to 1/3 of the standard deduction.

Who knows what the future of the above the line deduction is, given that all of the tax cuts that are facing sunset will be revisited here in due time.   In a world where the increased standard deduction remains and fewer people itemize, the above the line charitable deduction has its merits, especially among younger and less wealthy donors.   That being said, Roll Call reports that the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the above the line charitable deduction cost $2.9 billion in 2021, which is a pretty significant chunk of change.

While we wait to see what the tax writers will do… it’s now 11 pm eastern on Giving Tuesday – there’s still time to support your favorite charity, even if you won’t get an above the line deduction for it.

Grumpily guilted into generosity, eww

November 28, 2023 in Current Affairs, Federal – Legislative, In the News, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, November 9, 2023

House Republicans Chairmen Question DC AG Investigation of Leonard Leo Affiliated Nonprofits

The EO Tax Journal reported that two Republican Chairmen in the House of Representatives have launched an inquiry into the District of Columbia Attorney General's investigation focused on Leonard Leo and several nonprofits with which he is affiliated. Lest there be any doubt about the reasons for their inquiry, here are the opening paragraphs of their press release:

Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) sent a letter to Washington, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb demanding information on his politically motivated investigation of Leonard Leo and certain nonprofit groups he is affiliated with.

Leonard Leo was baselessly accused of receiving "excessive payments for consulting and other services from the several conservative nonprofit groups" by the Campaign for Accountability with no evidence to substantiate the complaint. Now, he is being investigated by Attorney General Brian Schwalb even though he and the organizations with which he is affiliated are based outside of Washington, D.C.

Their full letter to the DC AG is available here.

Setting aside the partisan issues their inquiry raises, the question of whether the DC AG's investigation is appropriate given where the nonprofits are based does raise an interesting internal affairs doctrine issue, as Ben Leff previously discussed in this space.  

Lloyd Mayer

November 9, 2023 in Federal – Legislative, State – Executive | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 13, 2023

New Senate Finance Committee Majority Staff Report Critical of Nonprofit Hospitals

Download (2)This week the majority staff of the Senate Finance Committee issued a report titled Executive Charity: Major Non-Profit Hospitals Take Advantage of Tax Breaks and Prioritize CEO Pay Over Helping Patients Afford Medical Care. From the introduction to the report (citations omitted):

[H]ospitals have gladly accepted the tax benefits that come with nonprofit status but have failed to provide the required community benefits. Non-profit hospitals spent only an estimated $16 billion on charity care in 2020, or about 57 percent of the value of their tax breaks in the same year. Those hospitals have made information about their charity care programs difficult to access, leaving many patients unaware that they may qualify for free or discounted care. Some hospitals also aggressively try to collect from patients through practices that verge on extraordinary collection practices. One recent study found that in 2017, non-profit 2 hospitals billed $2.7 billion to patients who were likely eligible for charity care. At a time when a record number of Americans report delaying medical care due to high costs, those choices from well-resourced hospitals ensure that future patients, including those who qualify for charity care, will hesitate before they seek necessary care out of a fear of accruing medical debt. That is unacceptable.

Not surprisingly, the American Hospital Association quickly responded with its own study, announced in a press release titled Tax-Exempt Hospitals Provided Nearly $130 Billion in Total Benefits to Their Communities. The press release begins:

Even in the face of a once-in-a-century pandemic, all hospitals, regardless of ownership type, continued to provide a comprehensive range of benefits, programs and essential services to their communities. New analysis released today by the American Hospital Association (AHA) shows that tax-exempt hospitals provided more than $129 billion in total benefits to their communities in 2020 alone; the most recent year for which comprehensive data is available. The analysis calculates that tax-exempt hospitals’ and health systems’ total community benefits were 15.5% of their total expenses in 2020, based on data from the Internal Revenue Service.

Coverage: Axios; The Hill; Law360 (subscription required).

Photo credit: Mary Free Bed. (Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana)

Lloyd Mayer

October 13, 2023 in Federal – Legislative, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Charity Fraud in the News - Michael Meyer and the Family Office Foundation

Last Saturday, Forbes reported on the indictment of Michael Meyer for the promotion of his allegedly fraudulent charitable-donation tax shelter, the Ultimate Tax Plan. Meyer and his associates and the charities he created have been the subject of federal law enforcement interest for more than a decade, and the indictment recounts numerous acts of fraud and deception. Additional information can be found in the Tax Court petition filed in July by the Family Office Foundation, a charitable entity created by Meyer, to contest its denial of tax-exempt status. The appendix includes the adverse determination letter from the IRS, which provides a detailed description of the Ultimate Tax Plan and how it was supposed to work.

The acts described in the indictment are clearly fraudulent. As the Forbes article points out, many of the transactions involved backdating transaction documents to a previous year, and “[a]nything that involves backdating is bad.” Backdated transactions reflect clear deception, and “[j]uries can … easily understand that one cannot take a deduction for 2016 for something that didn’t happen until 2017.” Furthermore, “if a tax strategy has a name, then it probably doesn’t work.”

However, the strategy includes at least one component that the IRS appears to view as impermissible that I would love to learn more about, partially because it is facilitated by donor-advised funds. The Ultimate Tax Plan involves the following structure. First, a donor-advised fund sponsoring organization (let’s call it “Charity”) is created. Second, each client creates an LLC with controlling interests and noncontrolling interests. The client retains the controlling interest and donates the noncontrolling interest to the Charity. The client then takes a charitable tax deduction for fair market value of the noncontrolling LLC interest. In the actual Ultimate Tax Plan, this transaction (allegedly) includes all sorts of shenanigans like the aforementioned backdating, transactions that appear on paper but were never executed, dramatic mis-valuations of the donated noncontrolling LLC interest, an explicit promise that the Charity would sell back the LLC interest to the “donor” at a fraction of the value taken as a tax deduction, and many others. But more interesting to me than all the shenanigans is the fact that the IRS appears to take the position in the adverse determination letter that the donation of noncontrolling LLC interests to the Charity inherently fails to qualify as a charitable contribution because “the Bogus Charities never had dominion or control over any of the purported contributions.” By permitting the donor to transfer a noncontrolling interest in the LLC that the donor continues to control, “the donor can take a tax deduction for a ‘charitable contribution’ while maintaining the economic benefit and control of the donated asset.”

Again, the (alleged) shenanigans clearly make Meyer’s scheme fraudulent and cause the Family Office Foundation to fail to qualify as a tax-exempt organization. But I’m not sure the IRS is on such firm legal grounds if it wants to argue that a donation of a noncontrolling interest in an LLC that continues to be controlled by the donor automatically fails as a charitable contribution because the charity never obtains dominion and control. (I’m sure some readers know this law better than me, and would love help if I’m just wrong about this). Obviously, any time a charity receives a donation of corporate stock, it does not thereby receive the right to obtain any distribution from the stock or demand that the company repurchase it. Generally, at least for publicly-traded stock, that’s not a problem for the charity because it can sell the stock and use the proceeds to pursue its charitable activities (or not, at its discretion). My understanding is that the general principle is true for donations of illiquid property as well: the fact that there is not a ready market for a donated asset may affect the valuation of that asset (a so-called liquidity or marketability discount), but it does not render the donation void. A charity that receives a donation of an illiquid asset, like a noncontrolling interest in a closely held firm, is considered to have sufficient dominion and control over the asset to treat the transaction as a completed donation. The fact that the charity doesn’t have the power to compel the firm to make distributions or convert the ownership interest into cash does not negate the fact of the donation. The fact that the charity has expressly agreed to sell the property back to the donor at a fraction of its reported value of course would negate the substance of the transaction, but not the mere fact that it is a noncontrolling interest in a firm that the donor continues to control.

It is true that there is a poorly defined body of law that holds that a charity has to undertake at least some actual charitable activities in order to qualify for exemption, and so the charity has to actually receive some cash from somewhere that it can spend on pursuing its charitable activities. The IRS determination letter calls this the “substantial present economic benefit test.” But for the purposes of our hypothetical, let’s assume that the Charity manages to get its hands on enough cash to satisfy the substantial present economic benefits test.

The reason I’m interested in this structure, if it could be pursued without all the shenanigans that make it obviously illegal, is because it appears to be substantially facilitated by the current legal treatment of Donor Advised Funds. If the Charity had to be a Private Foundation because it was receiving donations from a single person or family, current law would prevent it from continuing to own a substantial interest in the donated LLC, taking a deduction for the fair-market value (rather than basis) of the donated LLC interest, and from spending less than 5% of its assets every year, etc. In other words, the Family Office Foundation case might be an example of a structure that (if dramatically cleaned up) still illustrates an abusive but currently legal use of Donor Advised Funds.  The big commercial DAF sponsoring organizations, like those created by Fidelity and Vanguard, would never permit such an abusive use even if legal. I think the IRS and Congress should focus on relatively low-hanging fruit of closing these DAF loopholes rather than getting tied up deciding whether to make dramatic changes to the DAF laws.

-Benjamin M. Leff

August 17, 2023 in Current Affairs, Federal – Executive, Federal – Legislative, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 10, 2023

An Update on the Streamlining Federal Grants Act - Streamlining? Sure...

In a post I made earlier this week on the Streamlining Federal Grants Act of 2023, I discussed the Act's peculiar definition of "nonprofit."   As a reminder, the Act's definition of nonprofit is as follows:

any corporation, trust, association, cooperative, or other organization that—

(A) is operated primarily for scientific, educational, service, charitable, or similar purposes in the public interest;

(B) is not organized primarily for profit;

(C) uses net proceeds to maintain, improve, or expand the operations of the organization; and

(D) is not an institution of higher education.

While the definition reverberates with the echoes of Section 501(c)(3), it is clearly not the same.  So in my original post, I posed a question to the universe about the origins of this language.

And the universe answered!

David Thompson, the Vice President of Public Policy at the National Council of Nonprofits (the source of the article I linked in the original post) wrote me with the following information:

The definition of nonprofit organization in the legislation actually tracks ... the definition in the OMB Uniform Guidance, 2 CFR Sec. 200.1 Nonprofit Organization. Since the bill deals with the grantmaking process, it makes sense to use the definition upon which the federal grantmaking agencies rely. This also explains why Institution of Higher Education is defined separately too – the Uniform Guidance has distinct rules for Eds that are different from the ones governing grants to nonprofits.

So many thanks to David for that assist!

It does leave me to wonder, however, if this isn't a place where we could have some streamlining, which is ostensibly the purpose of the Act (I mean, just look at the title, friends!). The committee hearing testimony of all of the participants highlighted the capacity issues facing organizations applying for grants - cost, expertise, training, just having enough warm bodies, etc. For nonprofits, having to deal with two definitions certainly makes life more (and IMHO, unnecessarily) complicated. I'd certainly advocate for using the 501(c)(3) definition, something that nonprofit grantees are already going to be pretty used to dealing with on a regular basis.

I can see, however, two issues: (1) this definition may already be so embedded in Federal contracting lingo that changing it could have collateral impacts, and (2) the definition  seems broader than just Section 501(c)(3). So here's my compromise, Senate Homeland Security Committee: what about a safe harbor? Can we just say, explicitly, that any organization holding a current 501(c)(3) determination letter automatically meets the contracting definition - assuming that doesn't exists already somewhere in the Federal contracting guidelines. That keeps your original contracting definition in play, makes life easier for your 501(c)(3) grantees, and preserves the ability of non-501(c)(3)s to qualify under the Federal contracting definition, if it is in fact broader? You might have to deal with churches separately, as some have their determination letter but others do not... but we deal with churches separate all the time for this reason.

Anyway, thanks again to David for his good work and the work of the Council, and thanks for participating in this conversation.

Clarified, eww

 

 

 

 

August 10, 2023 in Current Affairs, Federal – Legislative, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Defining "Nonprofit" and the Streamlining Federal Grants Act of 2023

The National Council of Nonprofits reports that the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved Senate Bill 2286, the Streamlining Federal Grants Act of 2023.  According to the Council,

the legislation seeks to improve the effectiveness and performance of federal grants and cooperative agreements, simplify the application and reporting requirements, and facilitate greater coordination among federal agencies responsible for delivering services to the public. Notably, the bill mandates consultation with charitable nonprofits and governments and calls for improving services delivered to communities and organizations that historically have not received federal grants or cooperative agreements.

In summary, the Act requires each federal agency to appoint a senior official to oversee federal grant administration for that agency.  In addition, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) must establish a Grants Council, made up of the Controller of OMB as the chair, the senior grants officials from the various agencies, and others as determined by the chair.  The Grants Council is charged to “consistently and regularly solicit input and collect feedback and user experience information with respect to the application, administration, and reporting of grants and cooperative agreements, including from non-Federal entities” (emphasis added). The Director of OMB, in consultation with Grants Council, must develop plans for improving grants administration, including streamlining application and reporting processes, simplifying grant opportunity notices, and increasing opportunities for training and education in federal grants administration.

As indicated, the Grants Council is supposed to work with “non-Federal entities” in developing these grant procedure improvement plans.  A “non-Federal entity” is defined as  a “State, local government, Indian Tribe, institution of higher education, or nonprofit organization.” In turn, the term “nonprofit organization” is defined as follows:

any corporation, trust, association, cooperative, or other organization that—

(A) is operated primarily for scientific, educational, service, charitable, or similar purposes in the public interest;

(B) is not organized primarily for profit;

(C) uses net proceeds to maintain, improve, or expand the operations of the organization; and

(D) is not an institution of higher education.

I’m struck by the definition of a nonprofit organization for these purposes. It clearly is not co-terminus with the requirements of Code Section 501(c)(3).  For example, it includes “service” purposes…” and contains an odd variation on the nonprofit distribution constraint.  Confusingly, it uses terms that do not seem to exclude for-profit entities, as the organization only need be “not organized primarily for profit” – would this include, for example, an L3C?   A for-profit traditional (not next gen) cooperative?

In a concededly brief effort to find more information on the definition of “nonprofit” in the bill, I took a very quick look at some of the hearing testimony.  The Senate Committee held a hearing on May 2, information about which can be found here. I didn’t find a great deal of information on that specific issue – in fact, most of the testimony revolves around state and local government capacity challenges and it barely mentions private entities.  I’d be curious if anyone out in Nonprofit Land recognizes this definition from another Federal grant statute or otherwise has any background on from whence it came.  

Perplexedly, eww

August 8, 2023 in Current Affairs, Federal – Legislative, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

A Different ACE Act Targets Exempt Organization Election-Related Activity & Reporting

DownloadRepresentative Bryan Steil, Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, introduced the American Confidence in Elections Act, touting it as "the most conservative election integrity bill to be seriously considered in the House in over 20 years." While most of its provisions relate to election law, several provisions relate directly to tax-exempt organizations:

  • Section 131 would amend section 501(c)(3) to prohibit organizations described in that section from providing "direct funding to any State or unit of local government for the purpose of the administration of elections for public office or any funding to any State or unit of local government in a case in which it is reasonable to expect such funding will be used for the purpose of the administration of elections for public office (except with respect to the donation of space to a State or unit of local government to be used as a polling 10 place in an election for public office)."
  • Section 163 would prohibit donations by foreign nationals to section 501(c) organizations that make or expect to make contributions to a political committee.
  • Section 308 would prohibit the collection of identifying information for any donor to a 501(c) organization, except as permitted under section 6033 and certain non-tax laws, and section 309(d) would amend section 6033 to codify the current administrative position that reporting of such information is not required for 501(c) organizations other than 501(c)(3)s.
  • Section 309 would also increase the section 6033 annual gross receipts filing threshold for an annual return (i.e., Form 990 series) from $5,000 to $50,000.
  • Section 310 would prohibit Treasury from issuing any guidance under section 501(c)(4) (other than guidance limited to a particular taxpayer) relating to whether an organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare and lock in the standard and definitions relating to this requirement that were used as of January 1, 2010.

Lloyd Mayer

August 1, 2023 in Federal – Legislative | Permalink | Comments (0)

More Congressional Tax Legislation Targeting PGA-LIV Merger

DownloadThe congressional outrage over the announced merger of the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabian backed  LIV Golf continues.  Last week Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced two bills in response. One - The Sports League Tax-Exempt Status Limitation Act - would go after the PGA Tour's tax-exempt status under 501(c)(6) by stripping that status from any sports organizations with assets exceeding $500 million. The other - The Ending Tax Breaks for Massive Sovereign Wealth Funds Act - would end the exemption from withholding for sovereign wealth funds with over $100 billion invested, with an exception for countries that have either a free trade agreement or a tax treaty with the U.S. and are not deemed by the State Department to be a "foreign country of concern." This would limit the bill's effect to about half-a-dozen countries, including not only Saudi Arabia but also Russia, China, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait.

Lloyd Mayer

August 1, 2023 in Federal – Legislative | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Donor-Advised Funds Abuse

Everything in this post is “old news,” but last month I posted a largely positive account of donor-advised funds (DAFs).  In that post, I mentioned “specific abusive uses of DAFs,” but didn’t elaborate. So, today I want to describe one DAF “loophole” that really should be closed as soon as is practical. The Treasury proposed closing this loophole in a notice in 2017, but has never released regulations to actually do so.  I sometimes worry that efforts to prevent DAFs from delaying the use of charitable funds (which are relatively controversial) are getting in the way of acting to prevent specific abusive uses of DAFs. At the top of my list of DAF loopholes that should be closed is the way that recipient organizations treat distributions from DAFs for the purposes of the public support tests.

To understand what I mean, imagine that Mrs. Smith wants to give $1 million to a charity she controls called the Mrs. Smith Foundation. If she gives the money directly to the Foundation (and no one else does), then that charity is a private foundation, subject to a number of important legal restrictions. However, if she gives that money to a DAF and then advises the sponsoring organization to distribute the money to the Mrs. Smith Foundation, then the Foundation is a public charity under current law.  It’s a public charity instead of a private foundation even if Mrs. Smith controls the Foundation, and even if it never receives any funds from anyone but her (through her DAF). In effect, by using a DAF as an “intermediary,” Mrs. Smith has managed to create an organization that provides all the benefit of a private foundation, but which is not subject to any private foundation restrictions. Way back in 2017, the IRS pointed out this problem and announced that they “are considering” fixing the problem by requiring the “distributee charity” to treat distributions from DAF sponsoring organizations as coming from the DAF donor rather than the organization solely for the purposes of the public support tests.

Why does it matter that Mrs. Smith can create a fully-controlled charity that avoids private foundation status? First, under current law, DAF sponsoring organizations are not allowed to pay Mrs. Smith or her children “compensation” out of DAF funds, but the Mrs. Smith Foundation would be able to pay her and her children compensation (just like she could if it was a private foundation), as well as reimburse travel expenses associated with the Foundation’s activities. Second, under current law, private foundations and DAF sponsoring organizations must exercise “expenditure responsibility” if they make a grant to anyone other than a public charity. But the Mrs. Smith Foundation, as a public charity, doesn’t have that obligation. Expenditure responsibility is a series of actions that federal law requires private foundations and DAF sponsors to take to make sure that their grants are used for proper charitable purposes. Just to give one example, imagine that Mrs. Smith wanted to give funds to support a presidential candidate. She’s not supposed to use charitable dollars (which are tax deductible) to do that. If she created a private foundation, it would be prohibited from making any expenditures to support a candidate or lobby, but it could probably make a grant to a 501(c)(4) organization to support that organization’s charitable activities, as long as the private foundation exercised expenditure responsibility to make sure that none of the grant was used for political purposes. But if instead Mrs. Smith used a DAF as an intermediary to permit the Mrs. Smith Foundation to avoid private foundations status, then the Foundation could make the grant to the 501(c)(4) organization without exercising expenditure responsibility. Even better, if Mrs. Smith already had funds in a private foundation, that foundation could use the DAF as an intermediary to get the funds to the Mrs. Smith Foundation, which could in turn distribute the funds to the 501(c)(4) organization without being bound by expenditure responsibility. The DAF acts as a blocker for the original foundation’s need to exercise expenditure responsibility, and the fact that the Mrs. Smith Foundation qualifies as a public charity relieves it from the requirement to exercise expenditure responsibility. Surely that isn’t the way the law is intended to work.

Finally, here’s the irony: when DAFs are used as “intermediaries” in this way, they are not themselves delaying the expenditure of charitable dollars, which so many commentators are worried about. Instead, the DAF sponsor’s statistics about expenditures would show distributions to controlled charities as current expenditures. Once those distributions were made to the Mrs. Smith Foundation, there would be no need for the Foundation to spend them on charitable purposes on any particular timeline.  The Foundation isn’t even be subject to the 5% payout requirement of private foundations. Again, if Mrs. Smith already had a private foundation, she could satisfy the 5% payout requirement of the private foundation by using a DAF as an intermediary to distribute funds to the Mrs. Smith Foundation, which qualifies as a public charity. The Mrs. Smith Foundation could then sit on those assets for pretty much as long as it wants, just the same as other public charities. Basically, the fact that charities can use DAF funds as “public support” to avoid private foundation status means that unless that rule is changed, all other rules regulating private foundations or DAFs will be easy to avoid. The Treasury should make the change proposed in 2017 as soon as possible. 

Benjamin Leff

June 27, 2023 in Federal – Executive, Federal – Legislative | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Some Benefits of Donor-Advised Funds for the Merely Rich

The books I posted about yesterday and Tuesday are both quite critical of donor-advised funds (DAFs), and I hear a lot of criticism of DAFs these days. I am persuaded that current law permits some specific abusive uses of DAFs, but I am not (yet?) persuaded that among those abuses is the fact that DAFs avoid the 5% payout requirement of private foundations. The argument that I attributed to Rob Reich yesterday – that DAFs are like kudzu, crowding out donations to operating charities and so delaying the benefits of philanthropy – is well represented in the literature. So, I’d just like to share a single anecdote today about the benefits of a DAF for one real person.

Let’s call this person Mrs. Smith to protect her privacy. Mrs. Smith spent her life as a relatively frugal middle class woman, and found in her eighties that she had amassed a greater fortune, worth several millions of dollars, than she ever thought she would. She knew that she should be increasing her charitable giving, but felt somewhat overwhelmed by the multiple solicitations she received and so ironically gave less than she thought she should. She was persuaded to open a DAF at her city’s community foundation, largely because it would enable her to choose an amount that she intended to give for the year and give it, without agonizing about each specific charity.

The DAF has several additional benefits that she likes. First, it makes her donations of appreciated securities much easier than it would be if she tried to make them to individual charities. Because she is elderly, a significant portion of her wealth is in highly appreciated securities, and the tax benefit of using them for charitable contributions is well known. But because she still makes many charitable contributions of a few hundred dollars, it is quite complicated to try to make donations of appreciated securities to individual charities, many of which would much prefer to get a cash donation from a DAF than a donation of a few shares of stock from an individual. Second, because she feels overwhelmed by charitable solicitations (which are extremely costly to the charities), she would prefer to donate anonymously. The DAF permits her donations to individual charities to be anonymous and the DAF sponsor has assured her that it keeps private its own information about her. Third, because her DAF sponsor is a community foundation in her city, she appreciates the work that it does to recommend worthy charities and she reads its annual report diligently. She has said that she feels good about the (quite small) fees that the community foundation collects because she supports the work it does in turn supporting charities in her community. Fourth, as she ages she is quite anxious about charitable fraud, and feels comforted by knowing she can conduct her charitable giving and only have to interact directly with one trusted institution. Finally, the fact that she can track all her charitable giving on the community foundation’s website both helps her feel organized about her charitable activities and helps her act on her internal commitment to be more charitable. In her personal experience, investing through a DAF has enabled her to increase her charitable donations very significantly, even when measuring only donations that actually get transferred to active charities. Looking back over the past three years she has had the DAF, about 70% of her contributions into the DAF have already been transferred out to individual charities.

Interestingly, more than a decade ago, Mrs. Smith opened a different DAF at a major financial institution. She had converted a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA and for a single year was in a higher tax bracket than normal. She was advised to use that opportunity to make a significant charitable contribution into a DAF, which she could then distribute gradually in the following years. She also thought that having the DAF would facilitate discussions with her grandchildren about charitable giving as they chose recipients together. Because of where she was in her life, that just didn’t happen, and the balance sat in the DAF paying fees to the financial institution for seven years. Perhaps surprisingly, she continued to make the small charitable contributions she had always been making out of her regular checking account, but did not use the DAF at all. Finally, she decided to liquidate the DAF by making a (very large for her) single contribution to an active charity in her community.

One could imagine changing the law to require all DAFs to function more like Mrs. Smith's current experience and to prohibit the experience she had previously. But it's not at all clear that those changes to the law are necessary. It just depends on the relative benefits and burdens imposed on donors and charities by the law.

Benjamin Leff

May 11, 2023 in Federal – Legislative, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Politics & Nonprofits: Déjà Vu All Over Again

DownloadAnyone who tracks legal developments relating to the involvement of nonprofits in politics would be forgiven if they felt they were in a particularly drawn out version of the movie Groundhog Day. That is because it appears everything that is new is something we have seen before. Here are some recent examples:

  • DISCLOSE Act Introduced (again): U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representative David Cicilline (D-RI), along with 162 colleagues, reintroduced the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act in the new Congress. As noted in the press release, "Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer first introduced the DISCLOSE Act in the wake of the disastrous Citizens United decision in 2010, and Whitehouse has led the introduction of the legislation in every subsequent Congress."
  • Treasury/IRS Barred From Issuing 501(c)(4) Guidance (again): The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (Pub. L. No. 117-328) continues the now longstanding prohibition on the Treasury Department, including the Internal Revenue Service, using any funds to develop guidance "relating to the standard which is used to determine whether an organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare for purposes of section 501(c)(4)" (Division E, Title I, Section 123, under Administrative Provisions - Department of the Treasury). The Act also continues now longstanding prohibitions on the IRS using any funds "to target citizens of the United States for exercising any right guaranteed under the First Amendment" or "to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs." (Division E, Title I, Sections 106 & 107, under Administrative Provisions - Internal Revenue Service).
  • A Politician Benefitting from a Friendly 501(c)(4) (again): Politico reports that "A new nonprofit group is helping DeSantis go national." The new nonprofit, named And to the Republic, is reportedly a section 501(c)(4) organization that "is supporting Ron DeSantis’ national political activity."
  • A Politician Accused of Misusing a Nonprofit (again): The Arizona Republic reports that a former Democratic primary candidate for Secretary of State Reginald Bolding is facing allegations of wrongdoing relating to a nonprofit he founded and helped lead ("Bolding, his nonprofit, referred to AG for investigation of connections, donations"). The referral from Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs states there "is reasonable cause to believe [Bolding]  violated campaign finance law" based on a complaint filed by a Phoenix resident. The nonprofit is named Our Voice Our Vote, and according to IRS records it is a section 501(c)(4) organization.

Lloyd Mayer

March 11, 2023 in Federal – Legislative, In the News, State – Executive | Permalink | Comments (0)