The state of charitable giving

There is a very interesting series of articles in today’s Wall Street Journal about the current state of philanthropy and not-for-profits. While the main article focused on what private foundations could and should be doing to increase their charitable giving and reduce complexity for their grantees, I didn’t see anything about how the government could make it a little easier for not-for-profits to get started. The infamous Form 1023 is about 25 pages or so in length and, aside from the most straightforward stuff, fairly impenetrable. The IRS instructions that accompany the form are even longer; the table of contents alone will make your head spin. I’m superstitious enough not to criticize the IRS while they’re still reviewing our application for tax exemption, but as someone who just went through the process, I think that Form 1023 needs to be written in plain English. After all, the government requires all sorts of simplified reporting from various industries that deal with the public- shouldn’t they be held to the same standard?

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