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2019 Tax Alert for Educational Institutions

IRS Guidance for Private Schools’ Nondiscrimination Policy

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IRS Guidance for Private Schools’ Nondiscrimination Policy

The Internal Revenue Service recently issued a long-awaited update in Revenue Procedure 2019-22 regarding publicizing your educational institution’s racial nondiscrimination policy.

A school is required to have a racial nondiscrimination policy with regard to students in order to qualify as a tax-exempt organization. This means adopting a policy, operating the nondiscrimination policy in a bona fide manner, and making it known to the general public.

Effective as of May 28, 2019, to satisfy the publication requirement schools no longer need to take out advertisements in the local newspaper to provide notice, or to use broadcast media, as long as the nondiscrimination policy regarding students is on a publicly accessible Internet homepage. The newspaper notice and broadcast media have been the two prescribed methods of publicizing the policy to the public since 1975 when Revenue Procedure 75-50 was published, despite technological advances.

If your educational institution would like to take advantage of this new rule, you will want to ensure that the notice on your institution’s website follows the guidance in Revenue Procedure 2019-22 to be considered publicly accessible. Here are checklists for putting the notice on your homepage:

Do:

  • make the notice unavoidable
  • make it accessible without a visitor needing to enter an email address, username or password
  • make it the same size, color and graphic treatment in relation to other parts of your homepage
  • make it visible without having to do anything but simply scrolling on your homepage

Don’t:

  • have other parts of your homepage distract attention from the notice
  • have to link to another page from your homepage
  • have to select a dropdown or access by hovering
  • have notice in a carousel

This is the policy wording that the IRS says is acceptable:

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.

The antiquated rule from the 1970’s is finally updated! But please make sure your policy notice follows the dos and don’ts!

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