Nonprofits that have lost their federal tax-exempt status can seek help from the Pro Bono Partnership, a nonprofit legal assistance organization, according to Richard Hobish, executive director of the White Plains-based group. The partnership provides free business legal assistance to other not-for-profits in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The Journal News/Lohud.com reported yesterday that more than 1,500 nonprofits in the Lower Hudson Valley have had their tax-exempt status automatically revoked because they didn’t file annual reports with the IRS for three consecutive years. Many on the list are small and run by volunteers who are not well informed about IRS requirements. Nonprofits that can accept tax-deductible donations cannot do so while their status has been revoked. (Not every tax-exempt group can accept tax-deductible donations.) Such small organizations with limited revenue didn’t have to file annual reports with the IRS until 2007, the year a new federal law took effect.
The IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of roughly 450,000 organizations and has received just 22,000 applications for reinstatement — 5 percent. Only a few dozen of the Lower Hudson Valley groups have had their tax-exempt standing reinstated.
The Pro Bono Partnership’s lawyers are experts in the law of nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations and regularly advise groups that want to reapply for tax-exempt status, Hobish said. They can assist small and large nonprofits. The group’s website includes a broad range of educational information on its website and conducts 30 to 40 workshops a year.
Groups seeking assistance can call the organization’s White Plains office at 914-328-0674 or submit an application online.
Hobish said the state Charities Bureau, which has annual filing requirements for nonprofits, has reduced administrative burdens on nonprofits. Last year, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman convened the Leadership Committee for Nonprofit Revitalization, which recommended that the state allow electronic filing, among other measures. Hobish sat on the committee.