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Archives for June 2018

Six Challenges Nonprofit Executives Are Facing

Six Challenges Nonprofit Executives Are Facing

By Steven N. Kutsuflakis, CPA

Nonprofits have made headlines concerning challenges brought on by new federal rules on overtime pay, deferred compensation and new accounting standards for charities. Keeping up compliance with the various finance-related rules and regulations that govern the sector proves to be a challenge for nonprofits. To better understand what is keeping nonprofit executives up at night, Abila – a leading software provider to nonprofit organizations – surveyed 414 finance professionals who recently worked for a nonprofit or association. Key findings from the study reveal the primary challenges nonprofit executives are facing.

1.Managing Revenue

Survey participants identified managing multiple sources of revenue as the biggest financial challenge they face as finance professionals. Each source of income has complex rules and restrictions to be taken into consideration.


Nonprofit finance professionals have identified compliance as a significant burden that has become costlier over time, especially within the past two to three years. The study found that one of every four finance professionals is spending over 120 hours per year on compliance. Half of those surveyed believe if their organization grows, compliance difficulty and costs also will grow.

3.New rules and regulations

Finance professionals often support the introduction of new rules and regulations; however, they still worry what the effect will be on their organization. New rules and regulations often mean increased costs for nonprofit organizations. According to the survey, only one in five believes regulations do more good than harm.

4.Staff Turnover

The unexpected departure of an employee can significantly disrupt day-to-day operations. Forty-six percent of survey participants responded that they are unprepared if a key finance professional were to leave suddenly. Only 12 percent are confident they could survive a sudden departure in the finance department.


Organizations recognize fraud as a threat and have put significant effort into fraud prevention. Despite implementing practices, such as separating duties, only 38 percent of survey participants feel that members of their management and board of directors are very educated on how to avoid fraud.


According to the survey, 36 percent of finance professionals claim they experience more than one audit per year. With the typical preparation time exceeding two weeks, audits can be problematic for organizations that lose a significant amount of time – time that could be better spent deterring fraud or preparing for staff turnover.

We recognize it can be difficult to keep up a progressive pace when the rules and regulations are constantly changing. The professionals in our office can help you with the challenges your organization faces. We are often called upon when an organization loses one of its financial professionals to assist while they fill the void. We can also help ease the complexity that keeps you up at night. The professionals in our office are keeping a close watch on issues that affect nonprofits and are available to speak with you should you have concerns. For more information, contact:

Stephen N. Kutsuflakis, CPA

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Understanding the Changes to Unrelated Business Income

Understanding the Changes to Unrelated Business Income

By Jeffrey A. Kowalczyk, CPA, CFE, CGAP

While most nonprofits are tax exempt, that doesn’t mean they won’t pay business income tax.  When nonprofits generate income from unrelated activities, the activities can be taxed as unrelated business income (UBI) by the IRS.  To be taxed under UBI, an activity must generally meet three rules:

  1. It must be a trade or business, which the IRS defines as any activity which is carried on for the production of income from the sale of goods or performance of services.
  2. It must be carried on regularly.
  3. It must not be related substantially to the organization’s exempt purposes.

The legislation passed by Congress in December 2017, contains many provisions that will impact tax-exempt organizations. It is important for non-profit organizations to be mindful of these provisions.  To help clarify areas where we are seeing the most questions, we have highlighted a few of the most pertinent details below.

1. Provision: Disallowed Fringe Benefits Subject to Unrelated Business Taxable Income

Fringe benefits have traditionally been a benefit nonprofits could provide to their employees without those benefits being treated as UBI or included as taxable wages to the employee.  However, under the 2017 Tax Reform Act, some of those benefits have changed.  The following fringe benefit expenses, paid or incurred by the organization after 2017, will be now be disallowed and included as unrelated business income to the tax-exempt organization.

  • Qualified transportation fringe includes transportation in a commuter highway vehicle.  The transportation must relate to travel between the employee’s home and workplace.  It also includes any transit pass and qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement.
  • Qualified parking fringe includes parking provided to an employee on or near the businesses premises or near a location from which the employee commutes to work by transportation.
  • On-Premises Athletic Facility. The value of the use of on-premises athletic facilities which are operated by the employer and used exclusively by the employees and their dependents will be included as unrelated business income.

 What is the impact?

 Tax-exempt organizations that choose to continue offering nondeductible fringe benefits must pay tax on these employee benefits at the corporate tax rate and file a Form 990-T.

Tax-exempt organizations can also choose to increase an employee’s overall wages and discontinue offering these fringe benefits.  The increase in wages should help make up for the new expenses the employee will incur.

 2.Provision: Special Rule for Organizations with More Than One Unrelated Trade or Business

Tax-exempt organizations can no longer use the income and deductions between various unrelated trades or businesses to offset how much tax is owed.  Effective December 31, 2017, organizations that carry on multiple unrelated trade or business will be required to calculate and apply gains and losses separately.

Net operating loss deductions are limited to 80 percent of taxable income for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017.  Carryover of operating losses occurring before January 1, 2018 are still permissible to offset income from another unrelated trade or business.

 What is the impact?

Developing a process to categorize income is the first step to ensure compliance.  Tax-exempt organizations should analyze unrelated business tax costs to make sure they are properly allocating the expenses to the correct unrelated trade or business.  One strategy to consider is moving current activities into a separately-owned corporation.  This may allow a tax-exempt organization to report and offset unrelated trade or businesses under one entity.

3.Provision: Net Operating Loss Deduction

Net operating losses were previously allowed to be carried back two years and forward twenty.  There was no limit regarding how much taxable income could be offset by a net operating loss, allowing an entire loss to be used to counteract 100 percent of the taxable income in that current year.  Going forward, however, the net operating loss deduction will be limited to 80 percent of a tax-exempt organization’s taxable income and the carryforward period will be eliminated, allowing net operating losses to be carried forward indefinitely.

 What is the impact?

Organizations with an unrelated trade or business that have a net operating loss will pay 20 percent of their unrelated business income.

Many nonprofit entities have a difficult time classifying income for tax purposes as related or unrelated to the entity.  The tax reform law further complicates the treatment of unrelated business income.  On February 23, 2017, the American Institute of CPAs submitted a comment letter to the Internal Revenue Service, proposing guidelines on how to address the allocation of unrelated business income expenses of tax-exempt organizations for dual-use facilities and/or personnel.  The AICPA recommended that the IRS provide a simplified method for small businesses who lack the resources to adequately document the information needed to identify expenses relating to dual-use facilities and unrelated activities.  The IRS has yet to respond to the letter.

If you would like more information on the unrelated business income tax or assistance in developing a process to categorize your income, contact:

Jeffrey A. Kowalczyk, CPA, CFE, CGAP

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