Tax-exempt nonprofits are a big business. $3.4 trillion in assets and 9.4 million employees, about 7.2% of the total United States workforce. But not every tax-exempt nonprofit is a multi-billion dollar foundation. There are tens of thousands of nonprofits that are small, many of which work with volunteer staffs. Often legal expertise is lacking and people inadvertently do things that endanger the tax-exempt status of these organizations.
This book is designed for them, for anyone in a tax-exempt who doesn't have access to competent legal advice on their IRS Code Section 501(C)(3) tax-exempt status. It is, in a very general way, a lawyer in a book.
Attorney Stephen Fishman provides in very clear language guidance on every aspect of maintaining your Section 501(c)(3) status. He avoids convoluted legal language and uses plain English (bless him!). He begins with the Form 990 which is a disclosure of the tax-exempt nonprofits finances and is publicly accessible. He covers the importance of accounting and record keeping - something that often goes undone in volunteer organizations.
He helps the uninitiated distinguish between employees, volunteers and independent contractors. These distinctions are very important. Fail to withhold and pay employment taxes and the IRS doesn't care who you are or what you did, they go after you.
Next he moves on to contributions of goods, cash and services and how to deal with them. This is a crucially important subject.
Lots of Section 501(c)(3) raise lots of money and pay their executives very, very well. What's to stop an a aggressive fundraiser from setting up a tax-exempt and paying themselves huge salaries? Not much really, but Fishman does point out how to get caught and what happens when you do.
UBIT stands for Unrelated Business Income Tax. At one time, a tax-exempt could engage in a business and not pay taxes on the revenue. Not so much any more.
Finally, Fishman distinguishes between permissible lobbying activities and the forbidden political campaign activities.
This is a well-written, thorough examination of tax issues relating to Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organizations. Even though the subject is narrow, the book still runs to almost 450 pages. Fishman and Nolo have done a good job here and anyone who volunteers or works for a small or medium-sized tax-exempt that doesn't have full access to specialist legal or accounting tax advice will do well to purchase, read and continually consult this book.