A new private ruling may be of great interest to clients with substantial real estate interests who wish to contribute one or more properties to a family foundation. The ruling suggests that payment by the foundation to a property management entity controlled by the donor may be permissible under the personal services exception.
A Brief Case Study: Your nonprofit’s founder sends out an email in their official capacity to all of its members urging the them to vote for or against a political candidate or for or against a local proposition.
It may be a well-intended gesture, but a mistake that could result in excise taxes or the potential loss of your organization’s tax-exempt status.
The case of Salus Mundi Foundation et al v. Commissioner
On 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.
This 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:
Those 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.
The 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.
The 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.
We 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
In 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.
A promise to give is not a guaranteed charitable gift.
In 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?