Nonprofit Alert: Change to Nondiscrimination Reporting Policy for SchoolsBy Magdalena M. Czerniawski | Robert Lyons | May 23, 2019
After forty-four years, one of the Internal Revenue Service’s oldest requirements has passed into history, in favor of an update that recognizes how much more efficiently today’s technology allows us to communicate.
Revenue Procedure 75-50, which came about in the post-segregation era of the 1960s, was a way of certifying nondiscrimination in private schools. At that time, and as they do today, schools had to adopt a racially nondiscriminatory policy regarding students and operate in a bona fide manner in accordance with that policy. Revenue Procedure 75-50 required private schools to make their racially nondiscriminatory policy known to all segments of the general public in the school’s community and geographic area. This was generally accomplished by annually publishing the policy in a newspaper of “general circulation.” (The use of broadcast media was another, rarely used, alternative.) Over time, this became an expensive undertaking for schools, as most newspapers charge by the word in their “legal” announcements section.
The IRS believes that with the technological advancements that have come about since the original policy was established in 1975, the goal of making the policy known can now be accomplished differently. Schools can reach the general public in their communities and geographic areas through the use of the internet and the school’s website. Thus, the new Revenue Procedure 2019-22 modifies Revenue Procedure 75-50, allowing schools to add a third method of notification in regard to their discrimination policy: schools can display a notice of the policy on their “primary publicly accessible internet homepage.” This must be displayed at all times during a school’s taxable year in a manner reasonably expected to be noticed by visitors to the homepage. The IRS has provided the following language to meet this requirement:
NOTICE OF NONDISCRIMINATORY POLICY AS TO STUDENTS
The M school admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.
A publicly accessible homepage is defined as one that does not require a visitor to input information, such as an email address or a username and password, to access the homepage. The Revenue Procedure requires the following:
- The notice is to be made considering size, color and graphic treatment in relationship to other parts of the page;
- The notice is to be visible without a visitor having to do anything other than simply scrolling down on the homepage;
- Dropdown menus or reference to a subsequent page are not acceptable;
- If the school does not have its own website, but it has webpages contained elsewhere, the school must display a notice on its primary landing page within the website; and,
- All notices must be comparable with the recommended wording provided by the Revenue Procedure.
This Revenue Procedure is effective May 28th, 2019.
In conclusion, this modified process meets all of the original requirements established by Revenue Procedure 75-50 but allows for a more updated process. Considering the costs associated with publishing the notice in the news media, as was historically required, this revised process will be much easier for schools to adhere to and administer.
About Magdalena M. Czerniawski
Magdalena M. Czerniawski, CPA, MBA, is a Tax Director at Marks Paneth LLP and a member of the firm’s Nonprofit, Government & Healthcare Group. With over 15 years of nonprofit industry experience, she provides tax services to a wide array of nonprofits, including charitable organizations, schools, social welfare organizations, professional associations and private foundations. In addition to providing tax planning and advisory services, Ms. Czerniawski specializes in matters related to... READ MORE +
About Robert Lyons
Robert (Rob) Lyons, CPA, MST, is a Tax Director, Exempt Organizations in the Nonprofit, Government & Healthcare Group at Marks Paneth LLP. Mr. Lyons brings to this role the skills he has developed during more than 30 years of providing tax and consulting services to his clients in the nonprofit, higher education, and public sector industries. His experience includes handling substantial exempt organization tax issues. Mr. Lyons has testified in front of the House and Ways Committee in... READ MORE +