Nonprofit news roundup for Oct. 6, 2008

IRS reevaluates tax-exemption for colleges

The IRS plans to send a detailed questionnaire to 400 randomly-selected colleges and universities requesting information about tuition rates, salaries and endowment funds, The Boston Herald reported Oct. 4. After receiving the completed forms, the IRS will determine whether more rigorous tax-filing procedures are warranted for educational institutions. Though nonprofit colleges and universities generally are not required to pay taxes, billion-dollar endowment funds and soaring tuition costs are raising questions about their tax-exempt status.

Wall-Street crisis trickles down

Having hit the big players on Wall Street, the financial crisis now is working its way down to New York’s poorest residents, The Washington Post reported Oct. 5 (see crisis story). After the collapse of financial giants such as Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch, nonprofits are facing declining donations from companies, individuals, foundations and government simultaneously. New York-based nonprofit Citymeals-on-Wheels lost about $500,000 it expected from Bear-Stearns employees, forcing it to cut 100,000 meals to needy residents.

Palins’ assets top $1 million, donations hit $2,500

Financial documents released by the McCain presidential campaign indicate that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Republican vice-presidential nominee, has assets over $1 million, The New York Times reported Oct. 3 (see assets story). Palin and her husband, Todd, reported charitable deductions of $2,500 in 2007 and $4,250 in 2006. The Salvation Army was the only recipient mentioned in the tax returns, though a McCain campaign spokesman says other contributions went to “churches in the local community.”

In Brief:

* Wall Street Volunteers, a nonprofit that connects financial professionals with volunteer opportunities, has closed its doors in the wake of the credit crisis, Reuters reported Oct. 3.

* Nonprofit organizations in Minnesota, a state boasting one of the largest nonprofit sectors in the U.S., are struggling to stay afloat while dealing with declining donations, government funding deficits and growing need, The Minneapolis StarTribune reported Oct. 3.

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