Many tax exempt employers sponsor Section 403(b) retirement plans to help their employees save money for retirement. A 403(b) plan offers the ability for an employee to make pre-tax contributions to the plan (similar to the way a 401(k) plan operates) and such contributions can be invested and are not subject to tax until the employee makes a withdrawal from the plan, which is usually after retirement. Under tax rules issued in 2007, all 403(b) plans were required to have a written plan document (no later than December 31, 2009) in order to maintain the tax favored status for an organization's plan.
Tax-exempt organizations will soon receive guidance regarding the issues most likely to trigger an examination by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), says Sunita Lough, Commissioner of the IRS Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Division (TE/GE). On a recent call discussing TE/GE’s newly released FY 2017 work plan, Ms. Lough indicated that this interim guidance, which will likely come in mid-October, will be designed to provide nonprofits with a better understanding of how the IRS uses information document requests (IDRs) in order to more efficiently resolve compliance issues.
The Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) has announced plans to update Revenue Ruling 67-390 that requires an organization to “re-apply” for tax-exemption if it changes its corporate structure, including in situations where an exempt organization reincorporates under the laws of another state (even where there is no change in corporate/charitable purposes).
PATH Act 501(c)(4) Matters Update #2: Notification Requirement Clarified; Temporary Regulations and Notification Form Issued
As specified in Notice 2016-09 (discussed in our recent blog post on the PATH Act), the IRS has issued temporary regulations describing new notification procedures and a notification form for certain (current and prospective) Section 501(c)(4) organizations.
The IRS and the Department of the Treasury have released proposed regulations that address rules relating to Type I and Type III “supporting organizations” under the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) and applicable Treasury Regulations (the “Regulations”).
The IRS recently announced that, beginning February 29, 2016, Form 990-N (also known as the “e-Postcard”) will be filed through the IRS website rather than through the Urban Institute website.
PATH Act 501(c)(4) Matters Update: Notification Requirement Postponed, Temporary Regulations and Additional Guidance to Follow
Since enactment of the PATH Act, exempt organizations have been waiting for IRS guidance on the new Section 501(c)(4) notification requirement and procedures for seeking IRS determination Section 501(c)(4) status. We’re still waiting for those specifics, but, with Notice 2016-09, the IRS has taken some of the time pressure off (both for itself and the affected organizations).
Thanks But No Thanks: Proposed Charitable Gift Substantiation Regulations Receive a Critical Response
On September 18, the Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) proposed regulations relating to the substantiation of charitable contributions made to Section 501(c)(3) organizations. If approved, the proposed regulations would expand the ways in which charities can acknowledge donations. Under the current regulations, charities must provide a contemporaneous written acknowledgement to donors who contribute $250 or more stating (i) the amount of cash and a description of any property other than cash contributed; (ii) whether any goods or services were provided by the organization in consideration of the contribution; and (iii) a description and good faith estimate of the value of any goods or services provided. This acknowledgement is routinely provided as part of the “thank you’s” sent out by charities for contributions they receive, including those that fall below the $250 threshold.
The Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) has updated the procedures applicable to the IRS Exempt Organizations Determinations unit (“EO Determinations”) requests for additional information in connection with applications for tax exemption and related determinations. Under these new rules, applicants have much less time to respond to requests for additional information (and IRS staff have less discretion in granting applicants extensions of time to respond to such requests).
Final IRS Regulations Will Impact U.S. Private Foundation Grant-making to Foreign Charitable Organizations
The IRS has released final regulations that will impact how U.S. private foundations determine that a foreign charitable organization – i.e., one not organized under U.S. law or recognized as a public charity by the IRS – is the “equivalent” of a U.S. public charity for certain purposes. This determination is useful in the context of a private foundation’s compliance with the qualifying distribution rules under Section 4942 of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) as well as with the taxable expenditure rules under Section 4945 of the Code.
As the 2016 Presidential election season heats up—and in light of an internal memorandum on political activity audit procedures circulated within the IRS last month—we’d like to take the opportunity to remind our 501(c)(3) clients, colleagues and friends about of the federal tax law prohibitions on political activities conducted by 501(c)(3) organizations and the applicability of those prohibitions to the activities of employees of 501(c)(3) organizations.
On June 16, 2015, the White House issued a press release highlighting private sector commitments and a series of executive actions related to investment in clean energy innovation. The release coincided with yesterday’s clean energy investment summit, at which Vice President Joe Biden described more than $4 billion of independent commitments by major foundations, institutional investors, and other long-term investors to fund climate change solutions, including innovative technologies with the potential to reduce carbon pollution.
As we reach Day 500 of the IRS Section 501(c)(4) controversy (with a shout out to the Tax Prof Blog for keeping count), the IRS is continuing to implement restructuring of the Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities Division (“TE/GE”). In a statement made on September 9, 2014, the IRS announced that the current Office of Division Counsel/Associate Chief Counsel (TE/GE) will be split into two offices: the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (TE/GE), which will report to the deputy chief counsel (technical), and the Office of Division Counsel (TE/GE), which will report to the deputy chief counsel (operations). With this restructuring, IRS field attorneys will be part of the Office of Division Counsel and IRS national office attorneys will be part of the Office of Associate Chief Counsel.
The Treasury Department and IRS released the 2014-2015 Priority Guidance Plan on August 26, 2014. The Guidance Plan lists a total of 317 projects that are priorities for allocation of Treasury Department and IRS resources for July 2014 through June 2015. Of these, only sixteen relate directly to exempt organizations. Eleven of the sixteen are carryovers from the 2013-2014 Priority Guidance Plan; the remaining five projects are new, but two of these (dealing with Form 1023-EZ and related streamlined application procedures) were completed before issuance of the 2014-2015 Plan.
In our May 2014 blog post, “Introducing Form 1023-EZ,” we provided an overview of the new streamlined three-page Form 1023-EZ, which the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) was set to introduce this summer for small charities seeking tax exemption. The IRS formally announced the Form 1023-EZ’s introduction on July 1, 2014. Now that the form is live, we would like to highlight the key updated points.
In the past year, the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division (“TE/GE”) of the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) has been engulfed in controversy, resulting in sweeping changes in both its personnel and operations. The controversy began in May 2013, when Lois Lerner, at the time the Commissioner of TE/GE, revealed at an American Bar Association (“ABA”) Tax Section conference that the IRS had used inappropriate criteria to identify and scrutinize exemption applications from organizations with certain words in their names, such as “Tea Party” and “patriot.”
In what may be a sea change in how new non-profit organizations seek tax-exempt status, the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) has announced that it is releasing the Form 1023-EZ, a “Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code” this summer, and that eligible organizations will immediately be able to utilize the form in seeking tax-exempt status.