A Healthy Dose of Charity: The Carle and Oswald Property Tax Exemption Appeals

The Illinois appellate courts continue grappling with a new statute intended to bring clarity to nonprofit hospitals’ qualification for property tax exemption.  May such qualification be established through a certain amount of charitable activities, shown in financial terms?  These two cases demonstrate that charitable property use – not just charitable ownership and activities – is a nonnegotiable requirement under the Illinois Constitution for all nonprofit property owners. 

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.

“Second Verse, Same as the First?” – Clergy Housing Allowance Under Attack… Again

Like the old Herman’s Hermit’s song, “I’m Henry the Eighth I Am,” some legal complaints just don’t seem to go away.  Over the years, Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code, which excludes from income tax a clergy person’s “parsonage or housing allowance,” has come under legal attack in a number of cases.  Up until now, the legal challenges have been struck down, leaving the important clergy housing allowance exemption intact.  As recently as 2014, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck down one such case.  However, this year, and in response to that case, a new carefully crafted and