On July 1, the Supreme Court issued a major decision concerning nonprofit donor disclosure laws and the First Amendment. In Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, No. 19-251, the Court held that a California law requiring charitable organizations to file their annual I.R.S. Form 990 Schedule Bs with the State—and thus disclose the names and addresses of major donors—is facially unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment right to free association. The Court reasoned that disclosure of donor information has a broad chilling effect on charities and their donors, even when the information is kept confidential and the information is already required to be provided in Federal tax filings.
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On June 9, 2021, United States Senators Angus King (Ind.-ME) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced the “Accelerating Charitable Efforts Act” or the “ACE Act” (the “Act”) which, if adopted, would implement significant changes with respect to the rules surrounding donor advised funds (“DAFs”) and private foundations. The proposed changes, already being hotly debated in the philanthropic community, would mandate, among other things, operational changes for DAF sponsoring organizations and offer financial incentives (in the form of both excise taxes and tax benefits) to motivate donors, sponsoring organizations, and private foundations to distribute funds to public charities at a rapid pace.
As we previously reported, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law at the end of 2017, imposes an excise tax on certain tax-exempt organizations equivalent to 21% of “excess compensation” (including certain severance payments) paid to certain current and former employees. Under the new Section 4960 of the Internal Revenue Code, the tax is payable by the tax-exempt organization and, if applicable, a “related organization” (on a proportional basis). Section 4960 defines excess compensation for such employees as (i) the amount of remuneration, other than “excess parachute payments,” in excess of $1 million and (b) any “excess parachute payment” (including severance or other payments made upon separation).
As we previously reported, the 2017 tax reform bill instituted an excise tax on the investment income of certain private colleges and universities under new Section 4968 of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”). The Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) and the Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) have now issued Notice 2018-55 which provides guidance (including notification of an intent to issue regulations) regarding the calculation of net investment income for purposes of Code Section 4968(c).
This morning, the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education issued a “Dear Colleague” letter rescinding the Obama administration’s school sexual assault guidance. The Department also issued a new set of Questions and Answers on Campus Sexual Misconduct. The new guidance follows a speech delivered by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos earlier this month in which Secretary DeVos announced a formal rulemaking process regarding the process colleges and universities must follow with respect to Title IX-related complaints. We recommend that educational organizations review this new guidance.
In the twelve days since his inauguration, President Donald Trump has issued a flurry of executive orders relating to, among other things, the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the construction of oil pipelines, the building of a wall on the Mexican border, and immigration restrictions. These executive orders have begun the process of fulfilling many of the promises President Trump made during the campaign, and it seems likely that additional executive orders will continue to be issued.
A federal court development has delayed enforcement of the recently enacted New York State legislation (described in our prior blog post) requiring 501(c)(3) organizations to publicly disclose the identities of certain donors if those 501(c)(3) organizations make donations to 501(c)(4) organizations engaged in significant lobbying in New York.
Operating in China just became a bit more complex for foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). China’s new “Law on the Management of Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations’ Activities within Mainland China”, which was passed at the 20th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress on April 28, 2016, centralizes the regulation of the registration, management and reporting requirements for foreign NGOs with the Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MPS). The law applies to “foreign NGOs”, which are defined in the law as social organizations including foundations, social groups and think tanks. The law allows foreign NGOs to operate in the areas of economics, education, science, culture, health, sports, environmental protection and poverty and disaster relief while expressly forbidding them from funding or engaging in any for-profit, political or religious activities or engaging in any activities that “endanger state security” or “damage the national or public interest”.
Today, more than ever before, higher education lawyers are focusing their attention on issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault under Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972. Title IX protects people from sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at institutions that receive federal financial assistance.
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.