Lane Powell’s Nonprofit Practice – Representation of Tax-Exempt Organizations and Their Founders
Our multidisciplinary team handles a wide range of legal needs for nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations (referred to collectively as “charitable organizations”) and their founders, including formation, governance, corporate, commercial, litigation, tax, intellectual property, employment, environmental, data privacy and security, finance, and real estate issues.
Our clients include both individuals and entities wishing to form charitable organizations, as well as the charitable organizations themselves. The charitable organizations include private foundations, private operating foundations, and public charities exempt from income tax under IRC 501(c)(3) as well as trade associations and social welfare groups that support a broad array of charitable, educational, scientific, religious, and other charitable purposes.
We assist our clients in obtaining and maintaining tax-exempt status, and offer advice on optimizing formation, ongoing operations, and compliance. Operational and compliance issues may include governance structure, domestic and international grantmaking, engaging in commercial activity, organizing for-profit operations, spinning out IP to be developed and commercialized, joint ventures with for-profit businesses, minimizing unrelated business taxable income, tax-exempt financing, and navigating the self-dealing and other complex rules applicable to private foundations. We also represent charitable organizations in audits and inquiries by the Internal Revenue Service, state and local taxing authorities, and state Attorneys General, and provide advice regarding charitable registration and reporting requirements.
We operate at the intersection of private wealth and philanthropy, counseling individuals, multi-generational families, family offices, and family owned businesses regarding the structure, formation, funding, and operation of appropriate entities in order to assist them in translating their aspirations and vision into positive impact.
We advise high net worth individuals on philanthropic giving during life and at death. Charitable giving at death adds an extra layer of complexity to estate plans. We assist clients who have chosen to devote a portion of their wealth to charitable causes by creating the necessary estate plans that ensure the assets they would like to pass to charity can do so in a tax and mission effective manner.
We support charitable organizations in developing policies and controls to assure adherence to applicable laws, regulations, and policies. We are experts in helping clients navigate the complex rules imposed on private foundations and the restrictions under which they must operate to avoid excise tax, penalties, and public disclosure of violations which might damage a charitable organization’s or individual’s reputation.
Our attorneys have extensive experience advising charitable organizations on all aspects of development and planned giving, including preparation of gift acceptance, endowment and conflict of interest policies and structuring significant gifts (including charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts and gifts of real property). Simply put, we take on highly technical, highly complex legal compliance issues, thereby allowing the founders and their families, board members, and staff to focus their complete attention on executing the organization’s vision and fulfilling its mission.
We advise clients on the rules regulating investments by charitable organizations. Our team has worked on a wide variety of cutting-edge social enterprise, social impact, and venture philanthropy structures, new hybrid LLC/foundation models, program-related investments (PRIs), mission-related investments (MRIs), technology transfer from nonprofit institutions to startup ventures, and government relations.
Our litigation team brings broad experience to the representation of charitable organizations who face a variety of legal challenges ranging from employment issues to intellectual property disputes to corporate governance challenges. We also represent charitable organizations in advocacy litigation, helping them to bring actions as plaintiffs to advance their missions, whether it be protecting the environment, assisting immigrants, or ensuring that state and local governments operate within the boundaries of the law.
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