Highlights of the ABA 2007 Joint Fall CLE Meeting – September 27-29

The ABA 2007 Joint Fall CLE Meeting of the Taxation and Real Property Trust and Estate Sections was held in Vancouver, B.C. on September 27-29.  It was a great chance for me to visit the city in which I grew up, attend the wedding reception of a good friend, spend time with my family, and attend an excellent conference for exempt organization practitioners.

The Exempt Organizations Committee offered several pre-conference programs (I attended the healthcare organization subcommittee program) before launching into its program which featured the following topics:

  • News from the IRS and Department of Treasury
  • The New Form 990
  • Supporting Organization Issues
  • Hot Healthcare Issues
  • Charity Regulation in Canada
  • Donor Advised Funds
  • Cross Border Philanthropy

Some of the highlights for me:

  • The Tax-Exempt Hospitals Discussion Draft released by the Senate Finance Committee  – Minority on July 18, 2007.  The Discussion Draft includes the staff proposal recommendations of specific standards for 501(c)(3) hospitals:  establishing a charity care policy and wide publication of that policy; quantitative standards for charity care; requirements for nonprofit-for-profit joint ventures; and board composition and other governance requirements and executive compensation.  Michael Sanders (from the audience) commented that the reforms proposed here would not be limited to hospitals; universities and colleges should expect similar treatment.
  • According to Ronald J. Schultz, a senior technical advisor for the IRS TE/GE division, the Redesigned Form 990 will no longer include in its Core Form the compensation, total expense, and fundraising ratios.  Information about program service accomplishments will be moved to the front of the Form.  Others on the panel moderated by Eve Borenstein, including Rosemary Fei, questioned Schultz about several major problems with the Draft Form.  Schultz noted that the IRS was taking comments submitted in response to the Draft Form very seriously and recognized there was much to be done, but he emphasized that the IRS intended to meet its goal of having the Redesigned Form 990 ready for use by 2009 (for tax years ending December 31, 2008 and after).
  • Schultz also confirmed that the IRS did not have any plans to disallow group returns despite its earlier request for comments on this topic.