Tax Cut and Jobs Act Changes Will Impact Tax Exempt Organizations

By Charley Jensen

Charitable organizations no doubt have questions following the passage of the Tax Cut and Job Changes Act. Many are rightly concerned about the impact of the increased estate tax exemption amounts, the expanded standard deduction available to individuals and the reduced corporate income tax rate, all of which are projected to result in reduced contributions to charities in 2018 and thereafter.

But Congress did not stop there. The chart attached summarizes other changes that impact exempt organizations of all kinds, not just Section 501(c)(3) organizations:

As the chart shows, more taxes are imposed on exempt organizations than any tax relief provided by the Act. Yet, the House of Representatives proposed additional changes that did not become part of the Act:

  1. Broadening the application of the unrelated business income tax (UBIT) to state and local government entities
  2. Requiring exempt organizations conducting fundamental research activities to make the results of that research freely available to the public
  3. Set a single tax rate of 1.4 percent on the net investment income of private foundations, other than private operating foundations, rather than the current 1 percent or 2 percent rate, with the current rate depending on distributions made from the private foundation
  4. Imposed minimum hour requirements for private operating foundations operating museums open to the public in order to avoid the excise tax on failure to distribute earnings
  5. Excess business holdings excise taxes avoided for a private foundation that receives an independently controlled business other than by purchase, if the business distributes 100 percent of its earnings to the private foundation within four months
  6. Proposed repeal of the "Johnson amendment", thereby allowing 501(c)(3) organizations to make political statements in the ordinary course of activities so long as the incremental expenses of doing so are de minimis
  7. Required disclosures from sponsoring organizations of donor advised funds

Although none of the seven items above are part of the Act, these provide insight into where tax reform might be headed and these items may appear in future legislation.

If you want further information on the Act and how it might impact you or your organization, contact Charley Jensen, Laura Nelson, Jim Selle, or the Stinson Leonard Street contact with whom you regularly work.

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