Gathering in person for nonprofit programs, religious worship, and work: how does a nonprofit engage in these activities mid-pandemic? With masks becoming ubiquitous, people yearning to connect, and Zoom tolerance tiring, nonprofit leaders are taking a variety of approaches for operating amidst coronavirus-related restrictions. In our law practice, we are seeing precautions for religious worship, school activities, and other social service programming.
Starting a Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit can be quite an adventure! What legal steps are required? While the details may vary widely, the concrete steps may be best summarized as follows: (1) form a nonprofit corporation, consistent with Section 501(c)(3) requirements; (2) apply to the IRS for recognition of tax-exempt status; and (3) understand and comply with applicable legal requirements for both state nonprofit status and federal tax-exempt classification. Vision is essential, and so is taking the right steps with the end goal in mind. The following guidance sets forth a roadmap for taking these steps, including numerous references to other Wagenmaker & Oberly blog articles providing additional guidance. Note that these steps apply equally well for other types of tax-exempt nonprofits, such as social clubs and trade associations, except with respect to tax deductibility of charitable contributions and other privileges accorded only to Section 501(c)(3) organizations.
Our country has long grappled with whether and to what extent any government benefits or other favor may be accorded to private schools, especially religious grade schools. This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court issued another landmark decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, validating a state school tax credit program that benefits religious and non-religious schools alike by striking down the Montana State Constitution’s prohibition on any state aid to a school controlled by a “church, sect, or denomination.”