Love, Love Me Do... You Know They'll Tax You Too? Tax Aspects of Religious "Love Offerings"

The holiday season provides a prime opportunity for many church congregations and other worshipping groups to show their appreciation through financial gifts for the pastors, rabbis, priests or imams (collectively “ministers”) who faithfully serve their constituents.  Often known as “love offerings,” the gifts are typically collected from the members and may be several hundred or even thousands of dollars.  Do such love offerings amount to taxable income for the ministers, or are they nontaxable gifts? 

Protecting Against Violent Persons: The Illinois Workplace Violence Prevention Act

On his Facebook page, a recently-fired employee posts, “If revenge is sweet and a dish best served cold well, get ready …, the ice cream man is coming,” and texts a former co-worker about “beheading the boss and throwing [him] off the 19th floor. [1]”  How would your nonprofit handle such an alarming threat of violence against the organization or its employees?   Unfortunately, threats of violence in the workplace are on the rise – and nonprofits are not immune.  As employers and property owners, nonprofit organizations occasionally face the possibility of violence from disgruntled employees, participants in their activities, and others who may take offense. Recent high-profile examples come all too easily to mind, like the horrific workplace shooting in Sacramento and the Charleston church prayer meeting slaughter. 

A new legal tool is now available in Illinois to address serious threats:  the Illinois Workplace Violence Prevention Act, enacted in 2014.  In a nutshell, the Act provides for a special court restraining order – with police back-up – for churches, other religious institutions, and other organizations against persons shown to pose a “credible risk of harm” to others.  In addition to implementing general security measures and organizational policies, discussed here, nonprofits may now also proactively address specific threats against the organization or its employees through the Act, as discussed more fully below.

What, More Politics?: Proposed Free Speech Fairness Act Aims to Modify the Nonprofit Ban

Public charities described under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) that wish to engage in politically related speech must consider several important questions:

  • May Section 501(c)(3) organizations engage in political campaign activity at all? 
  • Just what is “political campaign activity”? 
  • Who or what determines whether speech is political?

Since 1954, 501(c)(3) organizations have been prohibited from engaging in certain politically-related speech, with the possible penalty of the loss of tax-exempt status.  This has been historically problematic, since what constitutes political speech can be hard to determine, and the IRS uses a vague “facts and circumstances” test in its assessments.  However,  Congress is considering a newly proposed law that would make it permissible for c(3)s to engage in limited politically-related speech.