Monday, April 19, 2010
Evelyn Brody (Chicago-Kent) presents Sunshine and Shadows on Charity Governance: Public Disclosure of the Forms 990 and IRS Enforcement Activities at Northwestern today as part of its Advanced Topics in Taxation Series organized by Tom Brennan and Charlotte Crane. Here is the abstract:
As legislatures turn to disclosure as the primary tool of nonprofit regulation, we should ask some basic questions: Why isn’t it enough that charities report information to the authorities, rather than disclose to the public? Is information collected by regulators who worry primarily about financial self-dealing useful to a public worried about charity effectiveness? Ideally, the prospect of disclosure should improve not just the accuracy of filings, but also board monitoring and governance: Boards will become sensitive not only to how operations look, but how well the charity is really doing. If mandated disclosures focus on the wrong questions or paint an incomplete picture, engaged boards can ensure that charities tell their stories through additional, voluntary forms of disclosure. At the same time, increased public disclosure of the IRS’s exemption determinations and revocations argue for formal (rigorous and systematic) guidance from the regulator.