Other Developments

Date01 May 2020
Published date01 May 2020
Bruce R. Hopkins’ Nonpr ofit Counsel DOI:10.10 02/n pc
of getting their child into U.S.C. is not a crime.” (See
the Quote of the Month in last month’s issue.)
Colleges and universities are closing as COVID-19
spreads. This is causing the Department of Education
to ease its rules concerning distance learning pro-
grams. The New York Times reported, on March 11,
of the shift to internet-based education following
spring breaks. The article states that schools will be
able to use grant funds “usually dedicated to tech-
nology to help implement emergency operations.”
The president of the American Council on Education
is quoted as saying that “[i]t isn’t an exaggeration
to say that this is the biggest shock to the higher
education system in a generation.”
The Department of the Treasury and the IRS issued
the second-quarter update of the 2019–2020 Priority
Guidance Plan, dated March 6. The plan is referenced in
the December 2019 issue. The update‘s provisions in the
tax-exempt organizations and charitable giving fields are
essentially the same as in the original plan.
Three major accounting firms filed an amicus brief,
dated March 16, in support of the petition for a writ of
certiorari in the Altera Corporation case (Altera Corpora-
tion & Subsidiaries v. Commissioner (No. 19-1009)). This
filing follows the filing of four other amicus briefs. The
petition was filed on February 10. At issue is a finding
by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that a
Treasury regulation is valid, despite a lack of evidence
of a policy shift by Treasury (decision referenced in the
August 2019 issue). The significance of this case in the
tax-exempt organizations law context is summarized in
the October and November 2018 issues.
The Boy Scouts of America, on February 19, filed
for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The New York
Times reported the next day that the case “sets up
what may be one of the most complex and uncertain
financial restructurings in American history.” The filing
came about as the BSA became overwhelmed with
sexual-abuse lawsuits. Bankruptcy protection facilitates
a court-approved compensation plan, although it is not
clear what monies and property are available for accu-
mulation in such a fund. A follow-up article in the Times
on February 20 discussed the properties of the local
councils, which the BSA claims are legally and finan-
cially independent; lawyers for prospective claimants, of
course, are contending to the contrary. An article in the
February 21 Times reported on a bankruptcy filing by a
Roman Catholic diocese seeking protection in the face of
claims by individuals that they were sexually abused by
members of the clergy.
Is yoga a religion? The New York Times reported on
March 10 that the practice has been prohibited, under
Alabama law, in the state’s public schools for almost
three decades. The contention has been that allowing
yoga in classrooms amounts to tacit endorsement of
a “non-Christian belief system,” because of yoga’s
connections to Hinduism and Buddhism. This law may
soon be changed, the Times reported, with the intro-
duction of yoga at the discretion of local school systems,
although in a version “stripped of its spiritual aspects
and non-English terminology.” The article references a
case in California where the court held that the pro-
gram involved was “devoid of any religious, mystical,
or spiritual trappings.” Under the law change, certain
words would be banned (e.g., namaste), as would man-
tras. [10.2(a)]
Quote of the Month: The US Supreme Court, on Feb-
ruary 24, issued the following order, in conjunction with
two pending cases (Americans for Prosperity v. Becerra
and Thomas More Law Center v. Becerra (summarized
in, most recently, the November 2019 issue)): “The
Solicitor General is invited to file a brief in these cases
expressing the views of the United States.” This presum-
ably is a request for the view of the Executive Branch,
which is not a party to these cases, as to whether the
Court should hear them.
Each article in the newsletter on a tax-exempt organizations law topic ends with a citation to the appropriate chapter(s) or
subchapter(s) in Hopkins, The Law of Tax-Exempt Organizations, Twelfth Edition (Wiley, 2019). This is done to provide ready access
to additional and background information concerning these articles. For example, underlying information concerning the first article
in this issue is available in Chapter 11 § 8(b) of the book; thus, the citation is referenced as [11.8(b)]. Likewise, each article in the
newsletter on a charitable giving law topic ends with a citation to the appropriate chapter(s) or subchapter(s) in Hopkins, The Tax
Law of Charitable Giving, Fifth Edition (Wiley, 2014, 2019 cumulative supplement). For example, underlying information concerning
the 10th paragraph in the first article in this issue is available in Chapter 3 § 1(a)–(c) of the book; thus, the citation is referenced
as [3.1(a)–(c)].
This newsletter is a stand-alone publication. An inventory of articles in the newsletter since its inception in 1983, and a subject
matter index, as well as an index of the court opinions, IRS revenue rulings and procedures, IRS technical advice memoranda, and
IRS private letter rulings discussed in the newsletter, are available at www.brucerhopkinslaw.com. For those who have the books,
the newsletter also provides monthly updates. Both books are annually supplemented. Questions concerning nonprofit law devel-
opments in general may be sent to brucerhopkins@brucerhopkinslaw.com. Also, a comprehensive summary of nonprofit law is
available in the Bruce R. Hopkins Nonprofit Law Library, an e-book published by Wiley. Other law resources are referenced at www.
brucerhopkinsbooks.com. Follow BRHopkins_NPLaw on Twitter.
The newsletter has a dedicated website. Please visit wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/npc.

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