What Does A Charity Attorney Do?

by | Oct 12, 2016 | Consulting

In Minnesota, hundreds of organizations apply for charitable status annually. They gather their information and documentation together, fill in papers and attach them to the appropriate forms. They submit their applications and wait. They can file on their own. They can also expedite the matter by contacting a charity attorney.

What Is a Charity Lawyer?

A charity lawyer, attorney or legal counsel is an individual who focuses on the laws that govern charitable organizations. While he or she may be capable, qualified and licensed of practicing other types of law in their state, they chose to specialize in this one area.

What Does a Charity Lawyer Do?

In Minnesota, charity lawyers are adept at handling with all aspects of the law that relate to the formation, running and dismantling of non-profit or charitable organizations. This covers a variety of specific regulations and ordinances. In general, a lawyer for a charitable organization will provide expertise, advice and/or guidance in a variety of facets concerning the charity. He, she or the firm may directly handle such things as documentation, applications and related matters. This may include any or all of the following:

  • Setting up the charitable status
  • Making sure the organization meets and complies with the legal definition and characteristics of “charity” before applying for charitable status
  • Ensuring submission of the right paperwork and documentation in the right language to the right people within the allotted time
  • Dealing with the federal and state government concerning income tax requirements and obligations

Furthermore, the checklist of a charity lawyer should include:

  • A complete comprehension of the language as well as the required documentation behind such things as filing the Articles of Incorporation with the Minnesota Secretary of State or including the intent to apply 501(c)(3) status with the IRS – a necessity for seeking charitable status in this state and requiring special attention be noted of said intention when filing the Articles of Incorporation
  • Making certain the organization understands and has the correct financial paperwork – ones that meet their financial obligations under the government requirements including the initial and thereafter Annual Report
  • Reinforcing the financial obligations of the charity to the State and the federal government while providing them with the ability to seek and receive exemptions from sales tax and property tax

Charity Lawyer

Perhaps one of the major reasons organizations hire charity lawyers is to help overcome a system of filing and applications that seem overwhelming and even incomprehensible at times. While some forms are simplistic, others are very exacting and demand an understanding of the laws of Minnesota concerning the forming and operation of charities. This is definitely applicable to the wording and expectations for at least two specific items relating to charitable status and taxes:

  1. Application for 501(c)(3) status – This is IRS form 1023
  2. Sale Tax Exemption – including the 24 day specifications and all it entails to meet the requirements

While it is possible to fill in and file the forms without legal advice or expertise, it is not recommended. When it comes to ensuring the future existence and ongoing wellbeing of any charitable organization, it is always best to talk to a specialist – a reputable and reliable charity lawyer.

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