Mass. AG proposes amendments to charities regulations

Bryan Cohen Jan. 3, 2012, 2:34pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley unveiled amendments on Thursday to regulations governing the registration and filing requirements for particular religious organizations that are also public charities.

The regulations are meant to simplify which religious organizations are required to register and submit annual filings with Coakley's office. The proposed amendments to the current regulations were filed on Dec. 9 with the Secretary of State's office and were published in the Massachusetts Register on Dec. 23.

The amendments are expected to go into effect in early 2012 after a public hearing on Jan. 10 conducted by Coakley's Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division.

The changes that are proposed would make clear that, in general, exemptions from the state's filing and registration requirements will parallel exemptions from similar federal filing requirements granted by the Internal Revenue Service to particular religious organizations.

Coakley's office will waive its filing and registration requirements if an organization has received or is eligible for an exemption from filing Form 990 information returns with the IRS on the basis that it is a church, an exclusively religious activity of any religious order, an integrated auxiliary of a church, a mission society sponsored by or affiliated with a church or if over half of the organization's activities are conducted in or directed at foreign countries.

This is consistent with the language contained in the relevant federal Treasury regulation, with which these organizations must also be in compliance. By remaining consistent with the federal requirements, it will be easier for religious organizations in the state to determine whether they should be registered and filing with Coakley's office.

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