Nonprofit Legal Alerts

The materials in our Resources section are for informational purposes only, without any representation that they are accurate or complete. These publications do not constitute legal advice and do not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and any other person, nor are they an offer to create such a relationship. These publications are current as of the date written, but laws change over time and vary from state to state. As a result, the information presented here may not be timely and/or appropriate for any state not specifically addressed in a publication. Consult an attorney if you have questions regarding the content of any publication.

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Registering for Charitable Solicitation

Posted on March 15, 2017

In order to protect the public from fraud, most states have enacted laws that require organizations to register with the state before they solicit donations from individuals in that state. The goal is for the public to be able to trust that their donations are going to a legitimate nonprofit organization that will use the money for charitable purposes.

This article explains generally when an organization must register in a state, how to complete the registration process, and what an organization should do when soliciting over the internet. Because each state has its own registration requirements, nonprofit organizations should seek advice from competent attorneys to advise them on their particular situation.

New Filing Deadline for FBARs

Posted on March 14, 2017

U.S. nonprofits that have bank accounts in foreign countries must file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) each year to report the existence of foreign financial accounts held outside the United States. Beginning this year, the filing deadline for the FBAR has been moved up to April 15 with a new automatic six-month extension option until October 15, 2017. This change aligns it with the filing deadline for individual income tax returns.

For more information about FBAR, see our article Reporting Requirement for Nonprofits with Foreign Bank Accounts.

Form 990 EZ More User Friendly

Posted on March 2, 2017

Recently, the IRS updated Form 990-EZ by adding 29 pop-up question icons to the electronic form to help tax-exempt organizations avoid common mistakes when filing their annual returns. Filing the electronic Form 990-EZ online (rather than mailing a paper copy) cuts down significantly on errors and substantially increases the likelihood the form is complete when filed.

Employers Should Be Careful When Obtaining Authorization for Background Checks

Posted on March 2, 2017

Many nonprofit employers conduct background checks on potential employees and volunteers. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), employers must obtain a signed Disclosure and Authorization form from an applicant before conducting a background check. The FCRA requires that the form be a completely standalone document, without any additional information. A court recently ruled that employers may not include in the form language asking the applicant to release the company from liability in connection with the background check. An employer that includes such language in the form rather than presenting it in a separate document is potentially liable for significant damages and court costs.

All Employers Must Use Updated Form I-9 as of January 22, 2017

Posted on February 2, 2017

All employers must properly complete a Form I-9 for every person they hire in the United States. The USCIS recently issued a revised version of the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 and, as of January 22, 2017, employers must only use the new version of this form.

This article includes more information on the revised I-9 and a reminder about the requirement that certain Georgia employers also use e-Verify to verify immigration status for employees.

Are You Registered to Solicit Donations?

Posted on December 9, 2016

December is a busy time for nonprofits, which often gear up for year-end fundraising campaigns. If your organization requests donations from individuals in Georgia, did you know that you have to make a special filing? Most organizations that solicit charitable contributions from the public in Georgia are required to register with the Secretary of State under the Georgia Charitable Solicitations Act. And yet we find that many PBPA clients have not made the required charitable solicitation registration. Do a quick search to find out if your registration is up to date. This article provides an overview of the application process, exemptions, and penalties under the Act. If you are soliciting donations from other states or on your website, this article answers the when, where and how you might have to register to solicit donations in other states as well.

In what is becoming an annual tradition, we are also including the gift of PBPA’s Guide to Sending Acknowledgments for Donations so you are sure to include the required IRS language when you acknowledge all of those year-end donations.

Happy fundraising!

Implementation of Changes to Overtime Rules Delayed

Posted on December 9, 2016

Last Tuesday, a federal court judge in Texas provided some relief for employers from the impending overtime rule changes under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The court issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing and enforcing its revised FLSA overtime regulations on a national basis. The revisions were scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2016, and, among other changes, increased the minimum annual salary level to qualify for exemption from overtime from $23,660 to $47,476.

What does this mean for our clients?

For the many nonprofits that have been struggling to meet the December 1 effective date, this court ruling offers some welcome relief. It does not, however, guarantee that the regulations will not go into effect at a later date. Although the injunction halts the revised regulations from becoming effective on December 1, it is a preliminary injunction, not a permanent one, and it does not necessarily mean that the new rule will be gone forever, either in its current form or in some revised form.

Organizations that have not yet made changes should continue planning so they can be in compliance with the revised regulations if and when they do become effective. Those that already have made changes will need to decide whether it makes business sense to suspend, alter, or reverse those changes pending any subsequent legal developments.

Please keep in mind, as you are considering both the planning and any changes you have already made, that exempt status requires that a position meet both the duties test and the salary test. You may have employees who are currently treated as exempt but do not meet the duties test and therefore should be paid overtime whether or not the new regulations go into effect. For additional information about the exemptions from overtime under the FLSA and how to determine if they apply to your employees, please see this Fact Sheet from Seyfarth Shaw. PBPA clients should contact your PBPA attorney if you have any questions.

Are You Taking a Legal Gamble with Your Fundraiser?

Posted on November 1, 2016

Raffles and door prizes are longtime favorites in the world of nonprofit fundraising and contests are becoming more popular as nonprofits look for creative ways to raise money. But are you familiar with the many laws that govern gaming and contests?

The questions that most charities don’t ask are: Are such activities illegal under GA law? Are there ways to conduct such activities so that they are legal? How can I raise needed funds through giveaways and games of chance or skill in Georgia?

Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta has several articles on the topic, including ones on Casino Nights, Raffles and Bingo listed below.

Casino Night, Poker Tournaments, Raffles and Bingo Games: Your Fundraiser Could Be Illegal Gambling

Raffle Guide

Bingo Games as Fundraisers

Resources for Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Changes

Posted on October 28, 2016

Resources for Clients Addressing the New Overtime Regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act:

Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta recognizes the challenges that the new overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) pose to our clients. These changes become effective on December 1, 2016, and advance preparation to get ready to implement them is necessary. Therefore, we have compiled this list of resources to assist nonprofits in addressing these changes. All of these resources are available on the Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta website, and through the links below.

• Legal Alert: Overtime Eligibility Expands on December 1, 2016: http://www.pbpatl.org/nonprofit-legal-alerts/overtime-eligibility-expands-on-december-1-2016/ – This article provides information and resources to help organizations understand the changes that are being implemented on December 1, 2016.

Article: Nonprofit Staffing Strategies for the New Overtime Regulations: http://www.pbpatl.org/nonprofit-legal-alerts/nonprofit-staffing-strategies-for-new-overtime-regulations-2/ – This article includes information about ways organizations will need to adapt their operations to comply with the new FLSA regulations that become effective on December 1, 2016.

Webcast: Checking the Facts: How the New Overtime Regulations Impact Nonprofits: http://www.pbpatl.org/workshops-and-webcasts/checking-the-facts-how-the-new-overtime-regulations-impact-nonprofits/ – This webcast provides basic guidance to help organizations understand the requirements of the new FLSA regulations and their implications.

Webcast: The Fair Labor Standards Act for the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault: http://www.pbpatl.org/workshops-and-webcasts/fair-labor-standards-act-for-gnesa/ – This webcast was presented for a specific client group, but has much broader relevance for nonprofit organizations. It provides both an overview of the law’s requirements, and practical information about how to address the new requirements, and how to work with nonexempt employees to ensure proper timekeeping and pay practices. It also specifically addresses issues that arise with regard to 24-hour operations including working with on-call employees.

Booklet: Implementing the FLSA Overtime Changes: What Every Nonprofit Needs to Know: http://www.pbpatl.org/uncategorized/flsa-overtime-changes-what-every-nonprofit-needs-to-know/ – This booklet, published by Altera Payroll and Insurance, provides practical guidance and form communications to help organizations implement changes made necessary by the FLSA amendments effective December 1, 2016.

Webcast: Get Your Organization Ready for the Fair Labor Standards Act Changes, delivered by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits: http://gcn.adobeconnect.com/p7cuzu4zryt/?OWASP_CSRFTOKEN=224fb966051590d1a3555f39412ee5b6296e0621d3163c55012b138be120ed64 – This webcast, delivered by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, provides practical advice regarding implementing changes within your organization, including addressing management, culture, financial, and technology concerns raised by the changes.

Fact Sheet: FLSA Changes and Exemptions: http://www.pbpatl.org/resources/flsa-changes-and-exemptions-seyfarth-shaw-llp/ – This fact sheet, published by Seyfarth Shaw LLP, provides information about the changes to the FLSA effective December 1, 2016 and what they mean for employers. It also identifies and explains common exemptions from the minimum wage and overtime requirements under the FLSA.

Pushing for a Constitutional Amendment? Be Aware of Lobbying Rules

Posted on October 7, 2016

There are four constitutional amendments on the November 8th ballot here in Georgia, including one addressing state intervention in public schools found to be “chronically failing” and another proposing to generate revenue for the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund. If your organization is urging the public to vote yes or no on any constitutional amendment, your activities are considered lobbying activities. Nonprofit §501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to engage in some lobbying activities, just not a substantial amount.

For more information about the amount of lobbying your organization can do, you can access our educational materials on lobbying for nonprofits at http://www.pbpatl.org/nonprofit-legal-alerts/nonprofits-and-lobbying/. If you think you may need legal advice, please contact Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta.