Recent developments in the world of exempts

Maybe I am a nonprofit geek (likely), but I have been excited the past few months about the amount of interesting news that keeps popping up with regard to the nonprofit/exempt sector.  Instead of following much of what is going on in the election (yawn), I have instead been watching many other issues (some of them obviously spurred on by election year activities).  A few of this week’s developments that I found interesting:


In the continuing saga of Van Hollen v. FEC, on September 18th the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit reversed the decision of the District Court (an unfortunate decision, IMHO).  In short, the Court of Appeals determined that the statute in question does not clearly preclude a purpose requirement for contributions to be disclosed.  The case has been remanded to the District Court for further development.  For those who would like more background on this issue, you can see my prior posts here and here.

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The San Francisco Public Press, after 32 months, was finally granted §501(c)(3) status by the IRS.  The fight for this organization and others like it has been difficult.  As an ardent reader of MinnPost, I am definitely a supporter of nonprofit journalism and what they can contribute to societal dialogue.  For more information on this topic, see this great article in Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab.

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On September 19th, Carl Levin, Democratic Senator from Michigan, made an interesting statement on the Senate floor about the IRS and 501(c)(4) organizations.  The text of that statement can be found here.  Interesting, but not enlightening, is the correspondence with the IRS that he also posts on that page.  While I don’t agree with Senator Levin that 501(c)(4) organizations should not be able to conduct any partisan political activity – I do agree that the issue of how much partisan activity can be conducted should be addressed.  See Greg Colvin’s proposed “silver bullet” addition to the Internal Revenue Code, as well as his correspondence with the IRS requesting clarification on these issues. 



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