The case of Salus Mundi Foundation et al v. Commissioner

Transferee LiabilityOn August 15, 2016, the Tax Court decided in Salus Mundi Foundation et al v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2016-154, that two foundations were liable as transferees for a corporation’s unpaid federal tax liability after another foundation distributed to the foundations the proceeds of the sale of the corporation’s stock.

The history in this case involves a marital trust that initially owned all of the stock in a C corporation called Double-D Ranch.  Later, a portion of the stock was transferred to the Diebold Foundation in New York.  Subsequent to that, the Diebold Foundation in New York sold the stock and distributed the proceeds from the sale of Double-D Ranch stock to three foundations formed by the Diebold children, pursuant to a New York state-approved plan of dissolution.

Continue Reading Transferee Liability: The [Unlikely] Situation that your Nonprofit Receives a Charitable Gift with Expensive Tax Strings Attached

SOCAP_logoThis month more than 2,500 people gathered at the ninth Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) conference, billed as the intersection of money and meaning.  The conference is designed to be the place where businesses built to solve the biggest problems meet investors, peers, partners and those who make it happen.  Launched in 2008 in the midst of the economic crises, the conference has grown is size and scope. Coblentz was thrilled to have had the opportunity to sponsor, attend and speak at this event and we came away with the following takeaways:

Continue Reading Takeaways From SOCAP16: The Social Capital Markets Conference

photo-1454165804606-c3d57bc86b40Those responsible for managing a private foundation’s investment assets may not always understand the unique fiduciary and tax constraints imposed on private foundations and their managers by both state and federal law.

Why is this important? 

Running afoul of the rules can result in costly excise taxes that can be imposed on both the foundation and its managers, and in the most extreme cases, can lead to revocation of tax-exempt status.

Continue Reading Investing Private Foundation Assets: What Every Foundation Manager Should Know

photo-1445297983845-454043d4eef4The Tax Court, in a case of first impression, has recently ventured into the perpetuity minefield.  One Dr. Douglas Carroll and spouse Deirdre Smith, of Baltimore, Maryland, conveyed a conservation easement in 2005 over approximately 26 acres of open land in Maryland, mostly pastureland zoned for agricultural uses, to the Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) and the Land Preservation Trust (LPT).  The former organization is a quasi-governmental agency, the latter a private, nongovernmental exempt organization.  The protected property consisted of two parcels of unequal size; upon the smaller parcel sat the taxpayers’ two-story primary residence, and, on the larger, a small (1,000-square-foot) house where a farmhand tenant  resided.

Continue Reading Lurching Towards Perpetuity

taxThe IRS Office of Chief Counsel recently released Information Letter 2016-0036 in response to questions regarding the taxation of crowdfunding revenue. In it the IRS concluded that crowdfunding revenue is taxable to the extent it is received in exchange for services or property.

Continue Reading Thinking of Crowdfunding Your Project? Beware – the Taxman Cometh

photo-1446482972539-0ed52b3e9520We have all been told at one point or another that we simply “can’t have it all.”  But for owners of recreational or agricultural land who desire to preserve the land, pass it down to their descendants as a legacy property, and achieve substantial tax savings, “(almost) having it all” is a possibility.  Enter, the conservation easement – a valuable tool that can bridge the divide between these often competing interests. Continue Reading Conserve Your Land, Preserve Your Estate: The Conservation Easement as a Land Use, Tax & Estate Planning Tool

photo-1460925895917-afdab827c52fIn recent years, private foundations increasingly have sought to incorporate socially responsible investing (“SRI”) mandates.  Some SRI mandates take the form of negative screens—e.g., screening out tobacco stocks.  Other SRI approaches are more proactive—e.g., a foundation focusing on disease eradication might invest in companies that develop vaccines.  However, there has been a view—accurate or not—that some socially responsible investments yield lower risk-adjusted financial returns than traditional investments (such investments are sometimes referred to as “concessionary”).

Accordingly, when a foundation engages in an SRI program, several legal issues arise.

Continue Reading IRS Notice Provides Support for Socially Responsible Investing by Private Foundations

A promise to give is not a guaranteed charitable gift.

smartphone-586903_1920In an open letter to their newborn daughter last December, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan announced they will eventually give 99 percent of their Facebook shares during their lives to a variety of important social causes.  Over the past several months, commentators have expressed both enthusiasm and concern with the manner in which the couple chose to commit their wealth to advancing these causes.  Continue Reading What Does the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Mean for Modern Philanthropy?

tax-468440_1920In July of 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) introduced a shorter application form to help small charities apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status more easily.  At that time, the Form 1023-EZ required a $400 user fee to be submitted with the application.

Effective July 1, 2016, the cost will drop to $275 for Form 1023-EZ filers, pursuant to recently issued Revenue Procedure 2016-32.

Continue Reading Form 1023-EZ Filers Benefit From Reduced Fee

On April 25, 2016, Joan and Sandy Weill announced their donation of $185 million to establish the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences in an ambitious effort to accelerate the development of new therapies for diseases affecting the brain and nervous system, including psychiatric disorders. This is the largest single donation in UCSF History. Learn more in the video below, or read about the donation here.