Archive for the Commentary Category

INSIGHT: Decoding your exemption letter: 501(c)(3) exemption and public charity status

I frequently get questions about decoding a non-profit’s tax-exempt status because the determination letter they’ve received from the IRS has a section at the top that lists “Public Charity Status” as 509(a)…, 170(b)…, or similar, and not the anticipated 501(c)3. A closer look at the first line of the exemption

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NEWS: New Requirements for new 501(c)4 organizations

Based on legislation passed in 2015, the IRS has implemented new requirements for new entities planning to operate as 501(c)4 organizations.  These organizations are now required to file a notice of intent to operate as a 501(c)4.  You’re only required to file the notice once using Form 8976. The

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NEWS: Decreased 501(c)3 Application Filing Fees

In continuing its efforts to better serve the needs of small non-profits (previously discussed here), the IRS has decreased application filing fees for the smallest organizations.  In the past, many small non-profits that might otherwise have qualified for an exemption under 501(c)3 chose not to apply for the exemption, determining

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INSIGHT: Clarifying Brexit’s affect on European IP Rights

I’ll leave my personal position on the Brexit vote for other arenas. This post will stick to discussing how the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union could affect your intellectual property rights in the UK and the remainder of Europe. First, the good news. For all

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NEWS: Changes to Form 990-N filing for small exempt organizations

The IRS has announced that, effective February 29, 2016, exempt organizations that required to file Form 990-N will do so through the IRS website – IRS.gov . This form can only be filed online – mailing a paper alternative is not an option.  Until now, Form-990 was filed

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INSIGHT: Clarifying Benefit Corporations and B-Corps for the Social Enterprise

Although they are too often used interchangeably when discussing social enterprises, Benefit Corporations and B-Corps are not the same animal. Benefit Corporations have been in the news for severals years – from 2012, when the much-praised Greyston Bakery became the first NY Benefit Corporation, to numerous headlines

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NEWS: Patents – Superpowers With an Expiration Date

A recent Supreme Court decision involving Marvel Comic‘s Spiderman provides a convenient opportunity to compare patents to superpowers, albeit superpowers with an expiration date. Here’s the background – an inventor creates and patents a real-life webslinger a la your friendly neighborhood Spiderman.  When Marvel began selling their own version of

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Accelerated IRS Review of Tax Exempt Applications

IRS efforts to accelerate review of tax exempt applications appear to be paying off. One recent report suggests the backlog, which once exceeded 60,000 pending applications, is now current. At one time, it was not unusual for an organization to wait nearly a year before receiving any inquiries

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Profiting from Fair Use

My office has recently fielded a flood of questions about Fair Use across a range of contexts – using a recording of a documentary subject using software on her computer; posting thumbnails on a website; sharing recipes and ingredient lists; and, most recently, artists asking whether the art they share

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ALERT: FORM 990 ONLINE FILING SECURITY BREACH

Any tax exempt organizations (e.g., 501(c)(3) nonprofits) that file their annual form 990, 990-N, or 990-EZ online should pay special attention to this security alert issued by the Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS).  According to the alert: “an unauthorized party or parties have gained access to the Form 990

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INSIGHT: Non-Profits Operating in Foreign Countries

Many non-profits are formed for charitable purposes in other countries – disaster relief, preserving native eco-systems, supporting refugees, etc. There is nothing questionable about wanting to make the world a better place, even when that part of the world is far away. However, because there are so many

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NEWS: IRS issues revised procedures for tax exempt applications

Earlier this month, the IRS issued revised procedures for several important matters affecting exempt organizations (including those commonly referred to nonprofits).   In particular, some of these revisions address the new streamlined application for tax exempt status.  Qualifying organizations may be able to save themselves considerable time and expenses

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NEWS: Congress considers permanently extending important charitable giving incentives

Congress is currently considering extending three important charitable giving incentives that have expired.  These incentives address donations related to (i) IRA rollovers, (ii) food inventories, and (iii) land conservation easements. Federal law promotes a policy encouraging individuals to support charitable organization by allowing itemized deductions for contributions.

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LECTURE: Starting and Operating a New York State NonProfit

On February 20th, I’ll be presenting a workshop covering the ins and outs of launching and running a nonprofit organization in New York.  New York state recently passed a slew of very important changes that will be affecting both existing nonprofits that should be taking steps to

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INSIGHT : Another Yoga Patent Controversy

I was recently asked to comment on the current yoga patent controversy surrounding a patent application filed by Yogaglo, a company that provides streaming yoga classes. Subsequent to filing their application, the company sent cease and desist letters to numerous other providers of online yoga instruction, including YogaInternational and

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NEWS : How does the government shutdown affect USPTO processing?

Without delving into the politics behind the government shutdown, many of my clients are curious about whether and how the current shutdown will be affecting any matters they have pending before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or applications that they’re considering submitting. Because the USPTO generates

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LECTURE : Legal Structures of Social Enterprises at the New School

I was delighted to be invited back to the New School  again this year to give a guest lecture on Thursday, September 27.  The topic was the legal structures that are available to social enterprises. Social enterprises, operated by social entrepreneurs, are business entities that are formed

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EVENT : Charities and their volunteers

The IRS is holding a free phone forum (aka teleconference) entitled “Charities and their Volunteers”.  Most charities rely substantially on volunteer labor; some are operated by volunteers exclusively. This session will cover that various tax rules that are involved in when volunteers are used and how to

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CLIENT NEWS : Award for the Community Food Pantry of Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown

A hearty congratulations to client Community Food Pantry of Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown. The Pantry will be honored with a prestigious award tomorrow morning at a ceremony hosted by Abigail Kirsch at Tappan Hill. The Food Bank for Westchester will be presenting the Michal Winter Memorial Award for Agency Excellence to the

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INSIGHT : Annual filing deadline approaches for many tax exempt organizations

For many tax exempt organizations, May 15th is the deadline for making your annual filing to the IRS in order to maintain your tax exempt status. Read on to learn if this is deadline for your organization and which version of  Form 990 you should use. Annual

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