The DC-Northern Virginia office of Simms Showers has extensive experience providing counsel to non-profit and tax exempt organizations. From the initial stages of starting or incorporating, to managing the every-day legal affairs, to protecting an organization against lawsuits, our firm has dealt with almost every issue faced by tax exempt organizations. We also help many non-profit clients with a national and international ministry scope.
Read more about the areas in which the firm specializes and how we can provide service to your organization:
- Complex organizational structures
- Tax Exempt Status and Tax Court Disputes IRS and Tax Court Disputes
- Legal Risk Management
- Charitable Solicitation Registrations (CSR)
- International Law Related Nonprofits
- Nonprofit Employment
Our firm has extensive experience advising non-profit organizations and helping them through the incorporation process. We have worked with a range of non-profits, from the small start-up to the veteran organization, to everywhere in-between. Our firm can provide the counseling needed to make your charitable organization a reality and help set your dream on solid footing. We can help you begin the process by incorporating your entity in the state where you will be headquartered, as well as assist in drafting and finalizing the governing documents that will direct how your organization will be run, such as the By-laws and Articles of Incorporation. We can also facilitate the first Organizational Meeting with the Board of Directors and set your organization off on the right foot.
Complex, Affiliated Non-Profit Organizational and Tax Structures
Sometimes the goals of your organization may be too broad, too far-reaching and too ambitious to be effectively achieved and adequately protected in a single incorporated structure. Our firm has extensive experience helping our clients assemble complex corporate structures that will help them pursue unique goals without comprising their tax-exempt status. We have helped clients design and maintain LLCs, affiliated unincorporated associations, sole-member non-profit property holding LLCs, integrated auxiliaries, subordinate ministries, sole-member stock corporations, and other organizational vehicles for our clients’ work. We have also helped clients use organizational structures overseas and internationally.
Tax Exempt Status and Tax Court Disputes IRS and Tax Court Disputes
Our firm has guided numerous non-profit organizations through the tedious process of receiving tax-exempt status from the IRS. While the IRS has a significant backlog, our extensive experience in this area can help avoid unnecessary delays that may otherwise significantly extend the wait. We also encourage clients to take advantage of our firm’s incorporation and non-profit formation services, since a successful tax exemption application begins long before the Form 1023 is filled out and filed. Our experience with tax exemption enables us to save you time and money as we guide you through all the steps involved in designing, envisioning, forming, operating, and maintaining your organization as a tax-exempt entity.
Our firm also has extensive experience navigating current changes and we have represented numerous tax exempt clients in front of the IRS and various tax courts. We have handled issues ranging from defending non-profits charged with alleged political activity, to ensuring that the IRS maintains exemptions to which non-profits are entitled under current law. If the IRS has challenged your tax exempt status, or if you just need advice on how to achieve your goals without inviting IRS scrutiny, our firm can provide the needed counsel and risk management to protect your organization and eliminate or mitigate the harm to your organization.
Legal Risk Management
Nowhere is the old adage, “the best defense is a good offense,” more true than in the area of risk management. Many litigation and IRS disputes could have been prevented, or at least mitigated, with effective policies, wise counsel, and issue awareness. Many times, non-profits are surprised by the liabilities they incur: “what you don’t know hurts you the most.” Our firm’s experience with litigation helps us to identify weak spots in your risk management and work with you to create a strategy and make decisions that will help shield you for years to come from avoidable litigation and disputes.
We provide risk management services and counsel in a variety of non-profit areas of need, including some of the following:
- Corporate structure and asset protection
- Tax-exempt fundraising policies and strategy
- Employment and volunteer policies and firing/hiring decisions
- Employment non-discrimination, including emerging issues like sexual orientation
- Child sexual abuse prevention, including policies and training
- Property exemptions
Charitable Solicitation Registrations (CSR)
Thirty Nine (39) states plus DC now require non-profit organizations to register in all states where they are soliciting funds. This can be a tedious, time-consuming, and confusing task, especially for those organizations that solicit donations in all 50 states. Moreover, for any nonprofits offering CGA’s they must register in all the states where they are offering to sell. Our firm has extensive experience filing for these registrations, and has established an efficient and cost-effective system to maintain our clients’ registrations wherever necessary, and to find and obtain exemptions from the registrations where possible.
International Law Related Nonprofits
In an increasingly globalized market, and especially in the interest of spreading awareness around the world, non-profits are seeking ways to expand outside the United States. This implicates a variety of new regulations and restrictions, including IRS codes, banking restrictions, and national security interests. Our firm has worked with clients to help them achieve goals overseas and comply with OFAC regulations, IRS rules on donations and fundraising for a foreign non-governmental organization (NGO), and business activity in foreign countries. We have also advised on partnerships between domestic tax-exempt clients and foreign NGOS, including drafting joint venture agreements and navigating the complexities of sharing resources across international borders.
One of the biggest ways that non-profits accomplish their goals is through the work of employees and volunteers. As a result, legal advice in this area is crucial, as employment practices and decisions can significantly (and sometimes unexpectedly) impact the organization’s tax-exempt status, corporate liability, and financial stability. Our firm has helped clients navigate the complicated waters of state and federal employment laws in a variety of matters, including hiring and firing, disciplining, investigating allegations of abuse or harassment, providing ADA accommodations, complying with FLSA overtime and pay requirements, negotiating severance packages in sensitive termination situations, fighting unemployment compensation proceedings, and negotiating settlement agreements.