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Jeff D's Profile

Jeff D's Avatar Joined about 7 years ago
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Go to: Atheists’ Collection Plate, With Religious Inspiration

Jeff D's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by Jeff D

"I have also heard that in the USA it is a legal requirement that at least 60% of the income of an organization like Mr. McGowan's directly benefit these people."

I am a tax lawyer here in the U.S. and I work with non-profit organizations (organized and operated under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code) in order to acquire official tax-exempt status and to comply with the rules in order to maintain exempt status and to be able to receive tax-deductible donations.

There is no rule or regulation saying that a fixed percentage of a tax-exempt charity's total receipts must be devoted directly to its charitable purpose. Instead, there are general requirements, stated non-quantitatively, that reasonable compensation can be paid to individuals (officers, directors or trustees, employees) for services rendered, but otherwise the assets and earnings of the organization cannot "inure to the benefit of any private individual" (except an impoverished person or the survivor of a disaster who is receiving aid, etc.). There is also the requirement that no significant part of the organization's assets or earnings can be used to influence legislation or elections.

In practice, these requirements could impel a U.S. charity to distribute or to spend more than 60 percent of its gross receipts in the direct pursuit or implementation of its charitable programs. For other organizations, less. Much would depend on whether the 501(c)(3) charitable organization is a publicly-supported charity or a "private foundation" (the latter generally functions as a conduit to funnel money to other, publicly-supported charities); and whether the organization distributes money to other NGOs or spends the money to conduct its own activities or programs.

Churches and religious organizations are supposed to be subject to the same rules as other 501(c)(3) organizations, but because of the Free Exercise Clause of our First Amendment, the Congress and the IRS do not compel churches to file official applications for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status, and churches -- especially the smaller ones -- generally are not required to file annual information returns (showing receipts, disbursements, and distributions) with the IRS as often as other, non-religious charities. Unfortunately, the rules against paying unreasonably large compensation to directors/trustees, officers and employees have not been enforced against religious organizations (e.g., Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar) as consistently or as often as they have been enforced against secular U.S. charities. This may change as a result of investigations by Senator Paul Grassley, etc.

Mon, 05 Apr 2010 07:14:00 UTC | #455992

Go to: British study reveals Bible knowledge in decline

Jeff D's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by Jeff D

Interesting. So the tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas was based on the story of the magi bringing gifts to the infant Jesus? Why no mention of Saturnalia or Brumalia. Oh well, why drink deeply from the fountain of knowledge when one can get by, most of the time, by gargling.

Sat, 11 Jul 2009 23:12:00 UTC | #378000

Go to: Bloomington Rejects 'You Can Be Good Without God'; Lawsuit Underway

Jeff D's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by Jeff D

Regarding Braces for Impact's Comment 374591,

I've lived in Indiana since 1994 after 8.5 years in N.Y.C., and I lived in Bloomington for 3 years during law school in the late 1970s. I travel regularly throughout Indiana and deal with lawyers and non-lawyers all over the state. Culturally, the southern half of Indiana (the part below U.S. Highway 40, which runs through Indianapolis) is definitely Bible Belt country, and is more like Kentucky or Tennessee than an area north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

"20 miles north of Bloomington" would probably be in Morgan County, which is -- forgive me -- about as redneck a territory as one can find anywhere in Indiana.

Bloomington was probably the best Indiana city to pick to run this bus ad campaign because as a city, Bloomington is one of the most "liberal" and cosmopolitan of any town in Indiana, and its population is probably in the top 3 or 4 Indiana cities in terms of median years of adult educational attainment. Maybe this was Braces for Impact's point.

But the Transit Authority personnel are perhaps more representative of the Bible-thumping, no-nothing residents of the surrounding county.

Sun, 10 May 2009 00:27:00 UTC | #357824

Go to: US clash brewing over global Rights of Child pact

Jeff D's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by Jeff D

Regarding chewedbarber's comment #21, citing to Article 14:

Here's a comment on that provision from an official Congressional report on the Convention:

Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion—Some maintain that Article 14(1), which states that “States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” might give children the right to
object to their parents’ religious beliefs or training."

As others have noted, no wonder the home-schoolin', Bible-thumpin' groups here in the U.S. are a writin' their Congresspeople to oppose U.S. signing and ratification.

Fri, 01 May 2009 12:59:00 UTC | #355331

Go to: Charlotte Pop Fest 2009

Jeff D's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by Jeff D

nonsuch,

In my opinion, The best Randy Newman material on "god" and religion is on his original 1995 concept album "Faust," with James Taylor as the Lord and Newman himself as Devil . . . especially "How Great Our Lord," which I'd classify as a mood-rewrite of the hymn "How Great Thou Art," with God as a lazy, arrogant creator --Newman later described his concept of the God character as "like Bing Crosby . . . he's a little behind the curve . . . he has nothing on his desk."

Wed, 29 Apr 2009 13:34:00 UTC | #354705

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