The Limitations of a Religious Nonprofit

If you are starting your own religious nonprofit organization, you may believe much of your legal and financial trouble is over once you’ve received your tax-exempt nonprofit status. However, things aren’t that simple, because your nonprofit status is conditional on meeting certain basic requirements. And if you’re not careful and run afoul of the limitations on religious nonprofit corporations, your nonprofit status, and all its advantages, could be put in danger. Continue reading “The Limitations of a Religious Nonprofit”

Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Ministerial Exception

The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that there was a “ministerial exception” to discrimination laws, protecting religious organizations from any discrimination suit brought by an employee classified as a “minister.” While this is convenient for religious institutions who are protected from the risk of being sued for employment discrimination, this is less so for the employees who might otherwise be protected. Now, two suits are heading to the United States Supreme Court that could test the legality and limits of this exception. Continue reading “Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Ministerial Exception”

Free Exercise of Religion by Closely Held Corporations

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” While it is obvious this applies to natural persons (in other words, living human beings), the Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. that, in some cases, it can also apply to closely held corporations. Although it has been half a decade since the case was decided, the exact implications of Hobby Lobby remain loosely defined. Continue reading “Free Exercise of Religion by Closely Held Corporations”

What Does it Mean to Be Tax-Exempt?

Tax-exempt charitable corporations are a surprisingly common part of American life. Most churches, colleges, libraries and charities are organized as tax-exempt charitable corporations, free from the burden that an income tax imposes on most people and businesses. However, being tax-exempt doesn’t mean you’re entirely free of obligations, and if you’re not careful, your tax-exempt corporation could find its status stripped, exposing it to massive financial liability. Continue reading “What Does it Mean to Be Tax-Exempt?”

Reporting Requirements of Tax-Exempt Religious Entities

One of the most significant benefits of running a nonprofit religious organization is the tax-exempt status you can qualify for. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about the IRS or tax authorities at all. It’s important for everyone, including tax-exempt entities, to be aware of their reporting requirements, lest they incur potential legal or financial liabilities. Continue reading “Reporting Requirements of Tax-Exempt Religious Entities”

Can a For-Profit Corporation Claim a Religious Objection?

It has long been recognized in the United States that an individual can, under certain circumstances, claim religious exemptions to certain laws because of a religious objection. This basic principle, based on the First Amendment’s Free Exercise clause, has also been extended to religious non-profit organizations, like churches and schools or charities run by religious institutions. However, in recent years a new question has come up: can a for-profit company claim a religious objection to a law, even when they’re not officially recognized as a religious organization? Continue reading “Can a For-Profit Corporation Claim a Religious Objection?”

Prohibited Activities by Nonprofit Organizations

Operating a nonprofit corporation can give you a lot of freedom compared to operating a for-profit corporation. For one, you can simply do whatever your organization was created to do, without worrying about whether you’re pleasing shareholders. For another, you can get a tax-exempt status that will protect you from the burden of the corporate income tax. However, that status isn’t absolute, and if you engage in any prohibited activities, your nonprofit status can be revoked. Continue reading “Prohibited Activities by Nonprofit Organizations”

Is a Nonprofit Corporation Right for You?

When people think about corporations, a few names will spring to mind: Disney, McDonalds, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Apple, maybe even something like Comcast or Nintendo. And that’s because most people only really think about for-profit corporations. However, just about every major charity is also incorporated, as are many colleges and universities. The big difference is that these are nonprofit corporations, and depending on what you intend to do, a nonprofit corporation might be just what you need. Continue reading “Is a Nonprofit Corporation Right for You?”

The Finance of Faith: Finances for Tax Exempt Organizations

Normally, one of the benefits of running a religious non-profit organization is being tax exempt. Religious non-profits can easily obtain tax-exempt status under sections 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, and free themselves of many of the reporting requirements that other organizations are subject to. That said, however, a religious non-profit cannot simply ignore its finances altogether. Remaining diligent about your finances can be incredibly important if your organization ever runs into trouble. Continue reading “The Finance of Faith: Finances for Tax Exempt Organizations”

The Religious Exemption to the ADA

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was originally passed in 1990 with the intention of ensuring Americans with disabilities have access to the public accommodations that everyone else enjoys. The law does this by requiring employers, government agencies, and anyone who provides goods and services to the public to make reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities. However, there are two kinds of entities that are broadly exempted from these requirements: private clubs and religious organizations. Continue reading “The Religious Exemption to the ADA”