Thursday, August 6, 2020
Ellen P. Aprill (Loyola-L.A.), Standards for Charitable Disaster Relief In the Time of Pandemic, 81 Exempt Org. Tax Rev. 395 (2020):
This short piece explains how exempt organizations currently face uncertainty about the standards for determining need for disaster relief, particularly in the time of a crisis, such as the current pandemic. The available IRS guidance is not any official document published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin, but only a Publication 3833, “Disaster Relief: Providing Assistance through Charitable Organizations.” This IRS publication states that organization must make an individualized, specific determination of need before giving such assistance. This piece argues that the IRS should issue official guidance for the COVID-19 crisis, modeled on that given in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks.
After 9/11, the IRS issued a notice permitting charities to distribute funds so long as payments were made in good faith using objective standards. The IRS should do the same now. If it does not, Congress should act, as it also did after 9/11.