Nonprofit and tax-exempt religious organizations serve the needs of people in order to further a wide variety of goals and objectives. People involved in such organizations, such as directors, ministers and administrators, are often focused intently on issues that fall outside the usual realm of business. Yet, these professionals often require legal counsel and protection in order to be free to devote their full attention to the pursuit of organizational goals.

Richards Brandt has been privileged to serve a variety of religious, tax exempt and nonprofit organizations operating in the State of Utah. Some challenges and problems faced by these organizations cannot be resolved in the courts, and many of the challenges faced by these organizations require truly creative solutions.

Utah’s religious organizations look to the law firm of Richards Brandt for legal counsel and representation involving the following:

Employment Matters

Labor and employment laws affect every area of a business, nonprofit and religious organizations are no exception. Our employment law attorneys counsel and represent large and small organizations.

See Labor & Employment page for more information about how we can help you:

  • Prepare documents and contracts necessary to run your organization
  • investigate workplace issues discretely
  • Address workplace harassment or violence regardless of who is accused
  • Hire paid and unpaid workers as well as terminate a volunteer or employee

We mediate disputes within your organization, defend you in litigation, audit files to ensure compliance and best practices, and train staff to better serve the organization and mitigate risk.

Tax Issues

Taxation lawyers handle tax planning for new business start-ups and nonprofit organizations including charitable and religious organizations. We represent clients in tax controversies involving liens and levies from the IRS, including appeals, collections, offers in compromise, audit reconsideration appeals, as well as bankruptcy strategies connected with tax controversies.

We assist in all areas of taxation and tax planning, including sales tax issues, property tax issues, tax planning for same-sex couples, and tax considerations after divorce, adoption, marriage or the birth of children. Our attorneys can advise you about a wide range of other business and personal tax and ownership options such as joint tenancy.

Real Estate Transactions and Litigation

Nonprofit and religious organizations also have additional responsibilities in the acquisition and sale of any real property that the organization owns and any transactions involving real property leased by or to the organization. Working with our real estate practice group, which is experienced, efficient, and effective in handling a wide variety of real estate transactions and disputes, we are able to assist nonprofits and religious organizations to ensure they comply with the complex laws and regulations that govern these transactions. Working with an attorney who understands how these issues intersect is critical to the long-term success of the organization.

Asset Protection

Asset protection is the process of safeguarding one’s wealth from those who have claims against it such as creditors or former spouses.  Asset protection planning is really risk management planning designed to discourage creditors or potential lawsuits before they begin.  Appropriate planning will also promote a settlement that is favorable to the client even if litigation has started.

Our attorneys also address limiting liability, which concerns the ability to stop or constrain liability to the asset or activity from which it arises.

Charitable Gift Allocation and Restrictions

Nonprofit (or tax exempt) organizations are required to follow state and federal laws when accepting gifts. Working with an attorney to establish written policies and procedures to govern solicitation, acceptance, and the administration of gifts is critical.

We provide legal counsel and guidance to nonprofit and religious organizations as well as prospective donors and their advisors when making gifts or other monetary contributions. We will protect your wishes and best interests regarding investments, estates, and tax consequences resulting from gifts to charities.

Constitutional, Tax and Schisms

Our attorneys assist our nonprofit clients as they work with denominational organizations, establish their board of directors, and build relationships with the public and governmental agencies. Whether the individual or organization is an evangelical leader, a priest, a rabbi or community center director, our lawyers are prepared to assist within the unique characteristics of religious and nonprofit entities.  These issues may include constitutional challenges unique to religious organizations, taxation issues, or even schisms within an institution.

Fundraising

As a 501(c)(3) or other organization engaging in fundraising, you must comply with IRS regulations as well as state and federal laws. Endowments and grants also have special tax considerations.

Using a professional fundraiser is a difficult decision for any nonprofit organization. Should the fundraiser be paid a salary, a percent of what they raise or are they a volunteer? Are they certified? Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) or Grant Professional Certified (GPC)?

Religious organizations have the added responsibility of distinguishing between fundraising to help others in need and fundraising for their religious group. The IRS may also want fundraising broken down into specific categories.

Public campaigns and elections have varying fundraising responsibilities and laws to comply with as well. Navigating which laws apply to which situation can be complex.

Donation of money, goods & products, raffle gifts, time or labor all must be tracked and recorded properly. Receipts for any or all of these fundraising activities is important and should be run by your attorney.

Volunteer Liability

Nonprofits rely on volunteers for almost everything. Asking volunteers to sign waivers and purchasing insurance to protect your volunteers and your organization adds to the already heavy load of running a nonprofit or religious nonprofit organization.

Downloading a release form off of the internet could cost you more in the long run, most of these forms cover a broad release for any possible future claims, however this all encompassing document may not have any legal protection for you or your organization. We will draft a waiver of liability form that makes sense for you organization and protects all parties.

In some states, charitable organizations are shielded from negligence lawsuits, however, none provide over arching protection from lawsuits, and public policy often intercedes adding a new variable. Nonprofits and religious organizations cannot count on charitable immunity; a binding document along with a short volunteer orientation is the ideal protection for your organization and your volunteers.

Compliance With State And Federal Laws

State and federal laws often conflict, interpreting these laws successfully and applying them to your charitable or religious organization requires an experience attorney. IRS regulations and public policy are not the only areas of risk for a nonprofit; transportation, wages, workers compensation, OSHA and civil rights laws also play a role in managing a not-for-profit entity.