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The Nonprofit FAQ: Federal Regulations in the U.S.

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FAQ Bulletin for March 17, 1999 — Public Access to 990s
Final Regulations on Distributing 990s; Service Interruption
Are donations always tax deductible?
Not always. Even when the recipient is an organization recognized by the IRS under section 501(c)(3), the donor may not be able to deduct the gift from personal income taxes.
Are there any sources for grants to individuals?
Foundations and government agencies make grants for scholarships, research, and other activities. Local organizations for emergency relief may help families or individuals in trouble. There is one new (10/02) organizations that allows requests online.
Background on Accounting
Some useful links that offer information about accounting questions, organizations, and practices.
Can a nonprofit make loans to officers or directors?
Some state laws forbid it. Avoiding 'intermediate sanctions' will require some care in any case.
Can a tax-exempt organization sell coupon books to raise money?
Selling coupon books is not an exempt activity (regardless of how the funds are used) unless the books are somehow related to the organization's exempt purposes.
Can religious organizations use religion as a criterion when selecting employees?
This is a complicated question. This item points to resources for sorting it out.
Can religious organizations use religion as a criterion when selecting employees?
This is a complicated question. This item points to resources for sorting it out.
Can the founder of an organization also be an employee?
Hard as it is, everyone must work to keep the relationship between the founder and the organization on a clear, business-like footing.
Can the organization operate while completing the 501(c)(3) process?
Extra caution is needed, but many organizations have started work before the formal process was completed
Can we get bulk mail at lower rates while our 501(c)(3) is pending?
The Postal Service and the IRS have different rules and standards
Do we need a privacy statement?
There are many facets to this question, and many resources available online. It is especially important for organizations that do business online or that offer online services for kids.
General considerations when planning an audit
The word 'audit' is used in lots of ways. This article focuses on issues and resources for a financial audit by an accountant or CPA.
How does the US Patriot Act affect nonprofits?
A guide by several national organizations answers many questions
How long must you keep an in-kind gift?
There is no time limit, but if a large gift is disposed of within two years, there is a form that must be filed with the IRS.
How must NPOs respond to public requests for 990s?
New laws and regulations greatly expand public access. They took effect June 8, 1999.
How should we dispose of outmoded computer equipment?
You need to keep records and make sure there are no grounds for concluding that insiders took advantage of the situation for personal gain.
Is the full-text of the Federal Register available on-line?
It is. But read this for even better deals!
Is there an ID number required when receiving a federal grant?
A D-U-N-S number is required before an organization can receive a federal grant. This subject is discussed in
Is there grantwriting software for sale or on the 'net?
None is identified. But the program itself is identified as the best best source of guidance.
What About Posting 990s and Other IRS Forms Online?
A new website discusses related questions and offers space for organizations to do this if they wish.
What employee taxes do nonprofits pay
Income taxes withheld from employees' pay and the employer's share of social security and medicare are due from any employer. Classifying someone as a contractor who isn't can be expensive (in penalties, etc). Unemployment taxes are more complicated. The IRS has explanations that can help.
What if we do get a federal grant?
There's a good deal of paperwork that needs to be done, and many regulations to follow. This item lists general requirements; the grant documents will be much more specific.
What is a patent? trademark? copyright?
Patents, trademarks and copyrights are used to protect your creations (intellectual property), whether they are tangible creations such as books or intangible processes such as programs
What laws apply to telemarketing?
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Telemarketing Sales Rule may both apply here.
Where can I find detailed information on IRS treatment of nonprofits?
The IRS itself has a detailed website.
Where can I find federal and state laws?
Search engines and libraries for finding federal and state laws
Where can we post our Form 990 online?
Regulations effective 6/8/99 require nonprofits to provide copies of their 990s on request. One way to do it is to post an exact copy of the report as filed with the IRS.
Will a trademark protect my organization's name on the net?
Having a registered trademark is a help, but registering your name for internet use is also a good idea