Tucson News Now: “In Tucson a new organization has formed to serve women with HIV and AIDS. The nonprofit PowerSource Tucson, Inc. says it’s the only group of its kind in Arizona. . . . PowerSource Tucson says the stigma surrounding the disease means women tend to be more isolated, feeling alone and without support.”
New York Times: “There were subscriptions to dating websites, meals at Hooters and purchases at Victoria’s Secret — not to mention jet ski joy rides and couples’ cruises to the Caribbean. All of it was paid for with the nearly $200 million donated to cancer charities, and was enjoyed by the healthy friends and family members of those running the groups, in what government officials said Tuesday was one of the largest charity fraud cases ever. At the center of the operation was James T. Reynolds Sr., who opened the Cancer Fund of America in 1987. Over the decades, according to a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission and regulators from 50 states and the District of Columbia, he expanded the enterprise to four separate groups and was joined by his son, friends and members of his Mormon Church congregation in Knoxville, Tenn.”
Sterling Foundation Management, LLC, has an informative article that explains the six types of assets that people can give to charities. The article starts with:
“At some point, many wealthy clients will think about contributing something other than cash to charity. This report examines some of the noncash assets donors may want to consider. We’ve high-lighted the main issues, including tax implications, special private foundation considerations, and operational questions. We will look at six categories of noncash assets: publicly traded securities, nonpublicly traded business interests, tangible personal property, intangible personal property, qualified retirement plans and real estate.
The Internal Revenue Service today reminds individuals and businesses making year-end gifts to charity that several important tax law provisions have taken effect in recent years. Some of the changes taxpayers should keep in mind include:
Rules for Charitable Contributions of Clothing and Household Items
Household items include furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances and linens. Clothing and household items donated to charity generally must be in good used condition or better to be tax-deductible. A clothing or household item for which a taxpayer claims a deduction of over $500 does not have to meet this standard if the taxpayer includes a qualified appraisal of the item with the return.
Donors must get a written acknowledgement from the charity for all gifts worth $250 or more. It must include, among other things, a description of the items contributed.
Guidelines for Monetary Donations
A taxpayer must have a bank record or a written statement from the charity in order to deduct any donation of money, regardless of amount. The record must show the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, and bank, credit union and credit card statements. Bank or credit union statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the amount paid. Credit card statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the transaction posting date.
Donations of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. For payroll deductions, the taxpayer should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document furnished by the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.
These requirements for the deduction of monetary donations do not change the long-standing requirement that a taxpayer obtain an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. However, one statement containing all of the required information may meet both requirements.
The IRS offers the following additional reminders to help taxpayers plan their holiday and year-end gifts to charity:
- Qualified charities. Check that the charity is eligible. Only donations to eligible organizations are tax-deductible. Select Check, a searchable online tool available on IRS.gov, lists most organizations that are eligible to receive deductible contributions. In addition, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies are eligible to receive deductible donations. That is true even if they are not listed in the tool’s database.
- Year-end gifts. Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2014 count for 2014, even if the credit card bill isn’t paid until 2015. Also, checks count for 2014 as long as they are mailed in 2014.
- Itemize deductions. For individuals, only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A can claim deductions for charitable contributions. This deduction is not available to individuals who choose the standard deduction. This includes anyone who files a short form (Form 1040A or 1040EZ). A taxpayer will have a tax savings only if the total itemized deductions (mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, etc.) exceed the standard deduction. Use the 2014 Form 1040 Schedule A to determine whether itemizing is better than claiming the standard deduction.
- Record donations. For all donations of property, including clothing and household items, get from the charity, if possible, a receipt that includes the name of the charity, date of the contribution, and a reasonably-detailed description of the donated property. If a donation is left at a charity’s unattended drop site, keep a written record of the donation that includes this information, as well as the fair market value of the property at the time of the donation and the method used to determine that value. Additional rules apply for a contribution of $250 or more.
- Special Rules. The deduction for a car, boat or airplane donated to charity is usually limited to the gross proceeds from its sale. This rule applies if the claimed value is more than $500. Form 1098-C or a similar statement, must be provided to the donor by the organization and attached to the donor’s tax return.
If the amount of a taxpayer’s deduction for all noncash contributions is over $500, a properly-completed Form 8283 must be submitted with the tax return.
IRS.gov has additional information on charitable giving, includingPublication 526, Charitable Contributions.
Question: My group is considering forming a tax-exempt charitable organization. Can the organization be a limited liability company or must it be a nonprofit corporation?
Answer: It can be an LLC if the LLC is owned only by Section 501(c)(3) organizations or governmental units or wholly owned instrumentalities of a state or political subdivision thereof and the LLC satisfies the 12 conditions described in an IRS paper called “Limited Liability Companies as Exempt Organization Update.” The LLC cannot have individuals or nonexempt organizations as members, and its organizing documents must contain certain language required by the IRS. The 12 conditions are:
1. The organizational documents must include a specific statement limiting the LLC’s activities to one or more exempt purposes.
2. The organizational language must specify that the LLC is operated exclusively to further the charitable purposes of its members.
3. The organizational language must require that the LLC’s members be section 501(c)(3) organizations or governmental units or wholly owned instrumentalities of a state or political subdivision thereof (“governmental units or instrumentalities”).
4. The organizational language must prohibit any direct or indirect transfer of any membership interest in the LLC to a transferee other than a section 501(c)(3) organization or governmental unit or instrumentality.
5. The organizational language must state that the LLC, interests in the LLC (other than a membership interest), or its assets may only be availed of or transferred to (whether directly or indirectly) any nonmember other than a section 501(c)(3) organization or governmental unit or instrumentality in exchange for fair market value.
6. The organizational language must guarantee that upon dissolution of the LLC, the assets devoted to the LLC’s charitable purposes will continue to be devoted to charitable purposes.
7. The organizational language must require that any amendments to the LLC’s articles of organization and operating agreement be consistent with section 501(c)(3).
8. The organizational language must prohibit the LLC from merging with, or converting into, a for -profit entity.
9. The organizational language must require that the LLC not distribute any assets to members who cease to be organizations described in section 501(c)(3) or governmental units or instrumentalities.
10. The organizational language must contain an acceptable contingency plan in the event one or more members ceases at any time to be an organization described in section 501(c)(3) or a governmental unit or instrumentality.
11. The organizational language must state that the LLC’s exempt members will expeditiously and vigorously enforce all of their rights in the LLC and will pursue all legal and equitable remedies to protect their interests in the LLC.
12. The LLC must represent that all its organizing document provisions are consistent with state LLC laws, and are enforceable at law and in equity.
Question: Must an organization whose corporate charter is reinstated after being administratively revoked or suspended by the state submit a new exemption application?
Answer: No. If a corporation is reinstated by the state after an administrative suspension or dissolution of its corporate charter, its exempt status may be reinstated without the need for the corporation to reapply. The organization must submit evidence from the state that its charter has been reinstated, indicating the effective date of reinstatement. In addition, the organization should provide evidence that it has complied with any filing requirement for annual returns during the period during which its corporate status was administratively suspended or dissolved.
If, however, an organization’s exempt status has been automatically revoked for failing to file annual returns, exempt status cannot be reinstated unless it submits a new exemption application, even if the state reinstates its corporate status.
Effective July 1, 2014, the IRS adopted Form 1023-EZ, Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. For organizations that are eligible to use the new Form 1023-EZ can complete a 3 page online application form, pay a $400 filing fee and obtain an IRS determination letter that the organization is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization within two to four weeks. To learn more about this new application process, the Form 1023EZ, the eligibility requirements and potential negative consequences of using the streamlined form instead of the lengthy and more complex IRS Form 1023, read my article called “IRS Form 1023-EZ.” For the complete list of disqualifications see the “IRS Form 1023-EZ Eligibility Test.”
The following is the text of a July 1, 2014, IRS press release:
The Internal Revenue Service today introduced a new, shorter application form to help small charities apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status more easily.
“This is a common-sense approach that will help reduce lengthy processing delays for small tax-exempt groups and ultimately larger organizations as well,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The change cuts paperwork for these charitable groups and speeds application processing so they can focus on their important work.”
The new Form 1023-EZ, available today on IRS.gov, is three pages long, compared with the standard 26-page Form 1023. Most small organizations, including as many as 70 percent of all applicants, qualify to use the new streamlined form. Most organizations with gross receipts of $50,000 or less and assets of $250,000 or less are eligible.
“Previously, all of these groups went through the same lengthy application process — regardless of size,” Koskinen said. “It didn’t matter if you were a small soccer or gardening club or a major research organization. This process created needlessly long delays for groups, which didn’t help the groups, the taxpaying public or the IRS.”
The change will allow the IRS to speed the approval process for smaller groups and free up resources to review applications from larger, more complex organizations while reducing the application backlog. Currently, the IRS has more than 60,000 501(c)(3) applications in its backlog, with many of them pending for nine months.
Following feedback this spring from the tax community and those working with charitable groups, the IRS refined the 1023-EZ proposal for today’s announcement, including revising the $50,000 gross receipts threshold down from an earlier figure of $200,000.
“We believe that many small organizations will be able to complete this form without creating major compliance risks,” Koskinen said. “Rather than using large amounts of IRS resources up front reviewing complex applications during a lengthy process, we believe the streamlined form will allow us to devote more compliance activity on the back end to ensure groups are actually doing the charitable work they apply to do.”
The Form 1023-EZ must be filed using pay.gov, and a $400 user fee is due at the time the form is submitted. Further details on the new Form 1023-EZ application process can be found in Revenue Procedure 2014-40, posted today on IRS.gov.
There are more than a million 501(c)(3) organizations recognized by the IRS.
Related Item: Information on Form 1023-EZ
An exempt organization must report name, address and structural and operational changes to the IRS. If an organization files an annual return (such as a form 990 or 990-EZ), it must report the changes on its return. If the organization needs to report a change of name, see Change of Name- Exempt Organizations. If it needs to report a change of address, see Change of Address – Exempt Organizations. The EO Determinations Office can issue an affirmation letter showing an organization’s new name and/or address and affirming the section of the Internal Revenue Code under which IRS records show the organization as tax-exempt and whether contributions to the organization are deductible.
An organization may request a determination letter regarding the effect of certain changes on its public charity status or private foundation status. For example, a determination letter will be issued to reclassify an organization as a public charity or a private foundation. An organization may also request a determination letter showing whether it is exempt from filing annual information returns in certain situations.
If an organization is unsure about whether a proposed change in its purposes or activities is consistent with its status as an exempt organization or as a public charity, it may want to request a private letter ruling. However, the IRS will not make any determination regarding any completed transaction.
Exempt Organizations Select Check is an on-line search tool that allows users to search for and select an exempt organization and check certain information about its federal tax status and filings. It consolidates three former search sites into one, providing expanded search capability and a more efficient way to search for organizations that:
- Are eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions (Publication 78 data). Users may rely on this list in determining deductibility of their contributions (just as they did when Publication 78 was a separate electronic publication rather than part of Select Check).
- Have had their tax-exempt status automatically revoked under the law because they have not filed Form 990 series returns or notices annually as required for three consecutive years (Auto-Revocation List)
- Have filed a Form 990-N (e-Postcard) annual electronic notice. (Most small exempt organizations whose annual gross receipts are normally $50,000 or less are required to electronically submit Form 990-N, unless they choose instead to file a completed Form 990 or Form 990-EZ.)
In addition to searching for a particular organization, users may download a complete list of each of the three types of organizations through Exempt Organizations Select Check.
Search Tips for Exempt Organizations Select Check
FOR RELATED INFORMATION SEE:
- Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract (EO BMF): a list of organizations recognized as exempt by the IRS