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1. IRS proposes curbing political activities of Sec. 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations   WebExclusive

BY Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.
The IRS announced its intention on Tuesday to amend the regulations governing social welfare organizations, a topic that has recently created an enormous amount of political controversy, especially during the recent scandal over how the IRS was mishandling applications from groups that had “tea party” and other terms in their names.

2. Recycling charitable dollars: IRS gives green light to more program-related investments   CPEDirect

BY Allison L. Evans, CPA, Ph.D., and Christine M. Petrovits, CPA, Ph.D.
Private foundations lost more than 20% of their assets during the economic crisis, according to the Foundation Center (see Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates, available at tinyurl.com/2vhk93e). At the same time, the demand for charitable services—and foundation dollars to support those services—increased significantly. The combination of these dynamics prompted many private foundations to consider new strategies to do more with less.

3. Interim IRS chief issues initial report on Sec. 501(c)(4) controversy   WebExclusive

BY Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.
On Monday, acting IRS commissioner Daniel Werfel issued his report, Charting a Path Forward at the IRS: Initial Assessment and Plan of Action, on the plans to reform the IRS to avoid inappropriate targeting of taxpayers applying for Sec. 501(c)(4) social welfare organization status. In the first section of the report, the IRS explained that its actions were two-pronged: first, it was identifying the individuals in the IRS responsible for the mismanagement outlined in the TIGTA report (“Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review,” TIGTA Rep’t No.

4. 15 policies for sound not-for-profit governance   WebExclusive

BY Ken Tysiac
CPAs nodded their heads in sympathy as stories of governance mistakes were told during a session at the AICPA Not-for-Profit Industry Conference in Washington on Thursday. One organization accepted a gift of a cattle ranch that had nothing to do with its mission, creating huge administrative headaches. Another organization did not immediately sell a gift of $500,000 in securities that were donated to finance an endowment.

5. IRS controversy could cause tax-exempt processing slowdown   WebExclusive

BY Ken Tysiac
CPAs need to be prepared for a slowdown in certain work handled by the IRS Exempt Organizations Division in the wake of the recent controversy involving the processing of certain applications for tax exemption under Sec. 501(c)(4), the division’s former head said Thursday. “Probably the whole system is frozen in time right now, like it was a mastodon stuck in a glacier,” said Marcus Owens, a member in the law firm Caplin & Drysdale’s Washington office and the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division.

6. Acting IRS commissioner out in tea party scandal   WebExclusive

BY Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.
Speaking from the East Room of the White House on Wednesday evening, President Barack Obama announced the departure of Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller as a result of the ongoing scandal surrounding the IRS’s controversial methods for determining which organizations applying for Sec. 501(c)(4) status warranted further review.

7. Justice Department opens criminal probe of IRS treatment of tea party groups   WebExclusive

BY Alistair M. Nevius, J.D.
At a press conference in Washington on Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department has opened a criminal probe of the IRS and its reported scrutiny of tax-exemption requests by groups with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their names. “The FBI is coordinating with the Justice Department to see if any laws were broken,” he said.

8. Sequestration will lead to IRS cuts in services, enforcement, and tax-related payments   WebExclusive

BY Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.
Now that sequestration has taken effect, the IRS has announced the following reductions in tax-related payments as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, P.L. 112-25. These reductions are effective beginning on March 1, 2013, until either the end of the government’s fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2013) or other intervening congressional action: Whistleblower payments under Sec.

9. Conservation easements are deductible despite reimbursement provision  

BY Janet A. Meade, CPA, Ph.D.
The Tax Court upheld charitable donations of conservation easements in a bargain sale, despite a requirement that, in the event of a later disposal of the property and extinguishment of the easements, the donee organization use the proceeds to reimburse the government agencies that funded the purchase. The court determined that the reimbursement provision did not violate the perpetuity requirement of Regs.

10. Documenting charitable contributions  

BY Alistair M. Nevius
At this time of year, many charities see an upsurge in donations, and the federal tax deduction for charitable contributions is a significant incentive. The Tax Court recently highlighted how an apparently slight oversight in documentation can upend the interdependent relationship between donee and donor. General Substantiation Requirements The substantiation requirements for monetary donations of less than $250 remain fairly informal under Sec.
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