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Once upon a time, there was an American billionaire who amassed a fortune in retail but continued to live frugally despite his enormous wealth. He said long ago that he wanted to “die broke.” Unlike most other philanthropists in the kingdom, he created a foundation with a name – gasp! – that did not include his own. And many years ago, he let it be known throughout the land that this organization would not hover…
Not to put too fine a point on it: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was a mess.  At the time the Senate majority rushed it through Congress in late December 2017, we reported in detail on the chaos, confusion, speed, and rancor that dominated the process. Making matters worse, the leadership omitted the customary transition period between a presidential signature and the law’s taking effect. Even in legislation that is well-crafted…
On March 31, 2020 – just about two weeks into the catastrophe that has enveloped the world – staff writer Dan Parks of The Chronicle of Philanthropy interviewed nonprofit heavyweights to gain their assessment of what it might take to survive this crisis.  Brian Gallagher, CEO of United Way Worldwide, characterized the COVID-19 crisis is like “a slow-moving hurricane hitting every country in the world simultaneously.” Although early data showed that in those first…
Throughout the United States, the summer months were a frenzy of rushed “reopenings” followed by all-too-predictable rollbacks as COVID-19 outbreaks surged.  Disease hotspots erupted even in some locations like California that had been early-lockdown states. Now, in September 2020, state and local governments around the nation face wrenching decisions on whether and when to attempt a new round of more careful reopenings. In this post, we’ll focus on California. But there are a number…
About a decade ago, the Internal Revenue Service launched an initiative targeting “high net worth families.”  This project was designed to look well beyond just the individual 1040s of the nation’s very wealthy to their related entities including private foundations. It “lasted a little while and then fizzled out a few years later,” according to law professor Phil Hackney who was in the IRS Chief Counsel’s Office at the time. This push apparently ended “……
“We need to stop quoting Dr. King, feeling good about ourselves, and then continuing to do the same old crap that hasn’t worked for generations.”  That was the urgent plea of prolific nonprofit commentator Vu Le in It’s 2020. Be bold or get the hell out of the way (January 20, 2020), Nonprofit AF Blog.  That (dare we say justified) rant was over six months ago, well before we knew how monumentally bad this brand…
It was September 8, 1971.   In the Oval Office, Richard M. Nixon chatted with his chief domestic-policy adviser, John Ehrlichman, about the upcoming 1972 election still fourteen months away. Mentioning potential Democratic rivals by name, the President asked: “Are we going after their tax returns? I … you know what I mean? There’s a lot of gold in them thar hills.”  We know about this incident and Nixon’s express directive to weaponize the Internal…
Since the enactment of California’s Assembly Bill 5 (“AB5”), many employers have struggled with classifying their workforce.  AB5, which codifies the factors set forth in the California Supreme Court case, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal. 5th 903, changes the method of determining whether a worker should be classified as an employee or independent contractor in California.  Those factors, better known as the “ABC” test, establish strict criteria that must be…
Earlier this month, in Philanthropy Thinkers On Not Returning to “Normal” (August 4, 2020), we wrote about the nonprofit sector “…anxiously await[ing] the time it can return to ‘normal.”  But the pre-pandemic “normal” was imperfect at best. COVID-19 has suddenly and sharply reminded us of the weaknesses in our healthcare and economic systems; they have largely collapsed under the strain and the crisis is nowhere near over in the United States.  And the deep…
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the finances of a broad swath of the nonprofit sector. For many organizations, some or most of their usual sources of revenue has stopped abruptly – and certainly – unexpectedly. With varying degrees of success, they are scrambling to find temporary revenue replacement including, where possible, pivoting to virtual activities. Some groups are lucky enough to have money set aside in one or more “restricted” funds. Many wonder