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Christians Engaged: Getting Religion, Politics, and Public Charity Status Right

Earlier this summer, the IRS issued a now-well-publicized rejection letter against Christians Engaged (CE) for being too political to qualify for Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. But, as explained in its IRS Form 1023 application, Christians Engaged operates for religious purposes, encourages people to pray for our country’s leaders, educates on moral issues with public policy, and carries out other activities with political overlays. An uproar ensued in opposition to this denial among tax practitioners, religious organizations, and politicians – with the welcome result that the IRS reversed course and summarily recognized the organization’s tax-exempt status. Was the IRS initially right or wrong? What could Christians Engaged have done better? And what can other Section 501(c)(3) organizations learn from the IRS’s bizarre handling?

NONPROFIT LAW NEWSFEED

Would-be Rhode Island State Rep Stole Nonprofit Funds

The NonProfit Times Laufton Ascencao, who was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 2018 but never took office, pleaded nolo contendere to one count of felony embezzlement, three counts of failure to report campaign expenditures and one count of failure to have a duly appointed treasurer other than himself certify the accuracy of his campaign finance reports, according to a statement from the Rhode Island Office of the Attorney General.

First Liberty Appeals Denial of Tax Exemption for Group Alleged to Have Republican Ties

Newsweek Christian legal organization First Liberty Institute is appealing the recent denial by the IRS to grant tax exemption status to a Texas Christian group that the federal agency alleges supports the Republican Party

New Washington State Nonprofit Corporation Act Revitalizes Law Governing Nonprofit Corporations

National Law Review Effective for most purposes on 1 January 2022, a new state law overhauls and reforms the governance landscape for nonprofit corporations in the state of Washington. Replacing existing Chapter 24.03 RCW (the “Current Act”) in its entirety, the new Washington Nonprofit Corporation Act (the “New Act”) modernizes state law relating to the organization, management, and governance of nonprofit corporations.

U.S. Supreme Court invalidates California charity donor disclosure

Reuters The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday backed two conservative nonprofit groups that challenged California's requirement that tax-exempt charities provide the state the identities of top financial donors - a decision that could imperil some political donor disclosure laws and buttress "dark money" donations.

Donor-Advised Funds Added To New Federal Legislation

The NonProfit Times A push to revamp charitable giving laws for the first time in a half-century — particularly around donor-advised funds (DAFs) — has yielded legislation supported by two prominent U.S. senators.

Sorting Out Tax Exempts’ UBTI Painlessly

Journal of Accountancy Practitioners who file Forms 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return, will see some curveballs coming their way this year, according to Jennifer Becket Harris, CPA, a shareholder with Clark Nuber in Bellevue, Wash. Harris advises public charities and private foundations as leader of the firm’s not-for-profit group.

DeSantis signs bill that shields Sarasota's Selby Gardens from losing full tax exemption

Sarasota Herald-Tribune  A sweeping tax bill that includes language shielding nonprofits such as Sarasota's Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which has been embroiled in a tax dispute, from losing their full tax-exempt status in such scenarios was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis Friday.

SCOTUS rules in favor of Catholic foster care agency that refused to work with same-sex couples

FOX Carolina The Supreme Court on Thursday said that Philadelphia violated the First Amendment when it froze the contract of a Catholic foster care agency that refused to work with same-sex couples as potential foster parents because the agency believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

IRS Denies Tax Exemption to Christian Group, Associates Bible With GOP

The Daily Signal A top Internal Revenue Service official told a Christian group that “Bible teachings are typically affiliated” with the Republican Party as a rationale for denying its application for tax-exempt status. 

The Texas-based Christians Engaged filed an appeal on Wednesday to the IRS’ denial, objecting to the tax agency’s assertion that it is partisan. 

Boone County Judge Orders Permanent Injunction Against Gov. Beshear's COVID-19 Orders

WKYT Boone Circuit Judge Richard A. Brueggemann granted a permanent injunction against Gov. Andy Beshear's COVID-19 orders Tuesday.

Would-be Rhode Island State Rep Stole Nonprofit Funds

The NonProfit Times Laufton Ascencao, who was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 2018 but never took office, pleaded nolo contendere to one count of felony embezzlement, three counts of failure to report campaign expenditures and one count of failure to have a duly appointed treasurer other than himself certify the accuracy of his campaign finance reports, according to a statement from the Rhode Island Office of the Attorney General.

First Liberty Appeals Denial of Tax Exemption for Group Alleged to Have Republican Ties

Newsweek Christian legal organization First Liberty Institute is appealing the recent denial by the IRS to grant tax exemption status to a Texas Christian group that the federal agency alleges supports the Republican Party