Articles Posted in Non-Profit Organizations

The Johnson Amendment, which has been in the news from time to time for the last couple of years, is sometimes described as prohibiting tax exempt churches from campaigning for candidates for elected office.  That is accurate, but it applies more broadly than to churches. No organization is eligible for tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code if it

participate[s] in, or intervene[s] in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

Last year, the President signed Executive Order 13798 that directed the Secretary of the Treasury to:

We previously discussed whether nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses can use unpaid interns without violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (or FLSA).  We also discussed allegations of violations of the FLSA related to unpaid interns in the fashion industry.

Earlier this year, the Department of Labor revised its policy, known as Fact Sheet #71, for determining whether businesses may use unpaid interns. The old 2010 policy used a six-factor test, with the presence of all six factors required in order for businesses to use unpaid interns without violating the FLSA. The new 2018 policy considers the following seven factors to determine whether the business or the intern is the primary beneficiary of the internship.

  1. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee—and vice versa.

We previously discussed the Business Entity Harmonization Bill (Senate Enrolled Act 443 or P.L. 118-2017) passed last year by the General Assembly in the following posts:

[March 3, 2018. The General Assembly amended some of the provisions created the Business Entity Harmonization Bill, as discussed in a Postscript to this series.]

This is the last in four-part series. The first three parts are here: here, here, and here.

This Part IV describes some flaws of Senate Enrolled Act 443 that we ran across while writing the first three parts.  We hope the General Assembly will address them, either in the 2018 session or another.

[March 3, 2018. The General Assembly amended some of the provisions created the Business Entity Harmonization Bill, as discussed in a Postscript to this series.]

This is the second of a four-part series discussing the Business Entity Harmonization Bill passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 2017. An overview of the bill is provided in Part I.

Senate Enrolled Act 443 creates, effective as of January 1, 2018, a new Article 0.5 in Title 23 of the Indiana Code, the Uniform Business Organizations Code, that includes a number of provisions that apply to Indiana business corporations (including professional corporations and benefit corporations, but excluding insurance companies), limited liability companies (LLCs, including series LLCs), limited partnerships (LPs), limited liability partnerships (LLPs), and nonprofit corporations, eliminating a number of inconsistencies between similar provisions for different types of entities. The following discussion is a brief description of some of the more important provisions, drawing attention to new or substantially changed provisions.

[March 3, 2018. The General Assembly amended some of the provisions created the Business Entity Harmonization Bill, as discussed in a Postscript to this series.]

Indiana law provides for several types of business and nonprofit entities, each of which is governed by one or more articles of Title 23 of the Indiana Code, all of which require similar filings with the Indiana Secretary of State, and all of which are capable of undergoing transactions such as mergers and conversions into other types of entities. The types of entities and the governing portions of Title 23 are:

Although the tax reform bill just passed by the U.S. House of Representatives retains the income tax deduction for individuals who make contributions to charitable organizations (i.e., organizations that are tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code), it may nonetheless have significant effects on the amount of charitable giving by Americans. The reason lies in the increase in the standard tax deduction for individuals and the elimination of other deductions.

Increasing the Standard Deduction

The tax code provides several types of deductions that reduce the amount of tax owed by individual taxpayers, including deductions for home mortgage interest and contributions to charitable organizations. However, the tax code also provides a minimum “standard deduction” for taxpayers who have less than that amount in itemized deductions. Taxpayers who itemize deductions receive a tax benefit by making a charitable contribution, but not those who take the standard deduction. For example, the after-tax cost of a $100 contribution by most itemizing taxpayers in the 25% tax bracket is only $75. For taxpayers who take the standard deduction, the cost of a $100 contribution is $100 in both before- and after-tax dollars.

Earlier this month, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided Doermer v. Callen, No. 15-3734 (7th Cir. Feb. 1, 2017). In a previous post, we reviewed the facts and explored what the case had to say about the board of directors and directors’ terms. Today we’ll inch closer to the issue at the center of the case: whether a non-member director of an Indiana nonprofit corporation has standing to bring derivative claims on behalf of the corporation.

But before getting to derivative claims, let’s consider what it means to be a member of a nonprofit corporation. Perhaps you’ve made a donation to a nonprofit in your community and been recognized as an “annual member” for your contribution. Generally it is okay for an organization to refer to its donors and other people who support the organization as members. However, these types of donor membership programs usually do not grant the donor legal or statutory membership in an organization.

Under the Indiana Nonprofit Corporation Act of 1991 (the “Act”), a “member” is “a person who, on more than one (1) occasion, has the right to vote for the election of a director under a corporation’s articles of incorporation or bylaws.” Ind. Code § 23-17-2-17(a). Chapter 7 of the Act discusses membership in more detail (including admission criteria, liability, rights, and duties), but the key is that a member is a person who, once he or she is admitted or meets the admission criteria, has the right to vote for a director.

Last week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided Doermer v. Callen, No. 15-3734 (7th Cir. Feb. 1, 2017), a case that illustrates and implicates several important aspects of Indiana nonprofit corporation law. Over the next few posts, we’ll explore some of the key aspects of the case and what it has to say about Indiana nonprofit law.  First up: the board of directors and directors’ terms.

At the center of the case is the Doermer Family Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit corporation formed under the Indiana Nonprofit Corporation Act of 1991 (the “Act”). The initial board of directors consisted of a father; a mother; their son, Richard Doermer; and daughter, Kathryn Callen. Each initial director had a lifetime appointment.

Mother died in 2000. In 2010, Phyllis Alberts was elected to the board of directors for a three-year term expiring in January 2013. Later in 2010, Father died, leaving the board with three directors: Richard, Kathryn, and Phyllis. In September 2013, over Richard’s objection, Kathryn and Phyllis voted to reelect Phyllis for a second term. The board then took several actions that Richard opposed, including making gifts to the University of Saint Francis of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Inc. (Kathryn sat on their board of directors), and electing Kathryn’s son, John, to the board.

Indiana nonprofit corporations are being converted to a new schedule for filing business entity reports with the Indiana Secretary of State.  In the past, a business entity report has been due every year in the same month in which the organization was incorporated. Nonprofit corporations will now file business entity reports every other year, the same schedule that applies to business corporations and LLCs. The filing fee will double from $10 to $20 for reports filed on paper.  Online filings will cost $22.

The transition began on July 1, 2016, when existing organizations began filing biannual reports and paying the $20 filing fee. Organizations that file a business entity report in July through December 2016 will file their next business entity reports in 2018 and then will continue to file reports in every even numbered year (still in the same month in which they were incorporated). Organizations that file their first biannual report in January through June of 2017 will file their next reports in 2019 and then in every odd numbered year.

New organizations incorporated in an even numbered year will file business entity reports in the same month of every even numbered year thereafter. New organizations incorporated in an odd numbered years will file business entity reports in the same month of every odd numbered year.