Personal Injury Law Firms Are Realizing the Benefits of Outsourcing the Medical Records Process

Personal injury law firms and specifically mass tort departments increasingly find themselves working with virtual companies and/or adding a virtual component to their practice. This allows staff to focus on other aspects of their case load and other operational functions. Medical records are essential for personal injury cases, and a timely and smooth process is important to ensure proper discovery. Thus, outsourcing medical records management adds a professional process to personal injury law firms.

Outsourced Medical Records Management-How can a virtual team help?

Client Questionnaires – In most cases, the Discovery process starts with clients completing a client questionnaire. The tasks of contacting clients and completing the questionnaire via the telephone can be outsourced to a virtual team. This will include calling the client to uncover key medical elements such as doctor’s information including dates of visits, surgery dates, and/or relevant drug use. This will allow the legal assistants within the law firm time to focus on other tasks and will save the firm time and money in the early stages of the case.

Medical Records Retrieval – After the medical and provider information has been collected and a HIPAA Authorization Form has been obtained by the client, the medical records retrieval process can commence. This process includes the requestor submitting requests with the HIPAA form to Healthcare Organizations including Release of Information, Health Information Management, and Medical Records Departments. The method of retrieval will depend on the department or organizations’ processes and policies. In some cases, the request can be faxed and in other cases the requests must be sent with an original signature. Outsourcing the retrieval process can be a win for most law firms because the process can be time consuming and is an important part of winning cases.

Follow up calls to alleviate backlog A big part of medical records retrieval and management is the outbound call process. Several follow up calls must be made. This is another key area in which outsourcing will help alleviate backlogs among the law firm’s legal and administrative staff. This process is twofold:

1. Making follow up calls to requestees to first ensure receipt of the request and to stay on top of the workflow and estimated time of arrival of the records. In some cases, this may mean 2-10 calls per month.

2. Secondly, the follow call ensures or uncovers any missing information or the need to resubmit records. In many cases, the health organizations and records departments subcontract the records process to a copying service and/or online health portal companies and calls must be made to these companies as well. This arduous task can easily be outsourced to assist the firm.

Eliminating Overwhelm – Working with a virtual support person or team can change morale for the better in law firms. If your legal assistant staff is overwhelmed, outsourcing some of their tasks can help alleviate their workload and cut down on staff overwhelm. This includes the medical records retrieval process in both whole or in part. In the end, this will assist with turnover and create a sustainable firm.

Adding a virtual component to your law firm’s strategy is a great way to position your firm for growth and an added competitive advantage. The conversation should start with your team. Talk to your case managers and legal assistants. Discuss the benefits of outsourcing the medical records process with them.

Six Tech Trends to Know Heading Into the New Year

As we look back at 2016 and gear up for a new year, it’s smart to brush up on new trends in the legal industry. By new trends, I mean new technology, because the terms have become almost synonymous.

Technology has impacted our profession dramatically in recent years, and it continues to do so at an accelerating pace. If you’re not on the technology bandwagon, you and your firm will have a hard time staying afloat.

This fact isn’t a revelation. We’ve known for decades that success in most industries comes down to adopting new technology. But doing so in the legal profession comes with its set of challenges.

First, regulations make change difficult. Second, sometimes it’s hard to know which new products and approaches in the legal industry have value, and which are just hype.

Those challenges aside, firms that don’t embrace technology will have trouble attracting the best new legal talent. The revenue at law firms clinging to old school ways will drop off as a new generation of clients takes their business to new-school, tech-savvy companies.

What does it take to join the ranks of the new-school? There are six major trends to be aware of going into 2017.

Social networks

Social networking is the cornerstone of legal industry marketing. This fact shouldn’t be a surprise. Rainmaking has always been about networking, relationship building and word of mouth. It still is; these techniques in their offline form still build practices. But if you’re not working the online component, too, you’re at a catastrophic disadvantage.

Social media has become a factor in how clients choose attorneys, according to a survey taken this year by FindLaw. In 2017, take steps to ramp up your social presence on your website and blog, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Doing so will maximize your online presence and help you grow relationships over time.

Your clients, prospects, and leads are online and checking social media regularly. Being part of the social media landscape isn’t hard, but there are right and wrong ways to go about it. Invest in expert help this year. Set a goal to get your social marketing plan up and running in 2017.

Virtual Law Firms

These are firms that can operate anywhere: A lawyer’s home, a satellite office, even from inside a Starbucks. Many lawyers have closed their downtown offices and work remotely. Technology lets them do this without hurting service or quality. Remote work can reduce overhead and travel time while increasing flexibility and improving work/life balance. Plus, you have the option to rent offices or meeting rooms as needed.

The leap to virtual doesn’t have to happen overnight. Experiment by working remotely one day a week and see how it impacts your productivity and revenue. It may very well provide the edge your firm needs to succeed in 2017.

E-discovery

Electronically stored information (ESI) is now considered discoverable in court. ESI includes e-mails, texts, instant messages, voicemails and other electronically stored information. What you need to know: This technological reality has changed the face of litigation. Lawyers can (and should) use digital services to access all types of records. And we need to remind our clients that their deleted texts and e-mails are retrievable.

Legal process outsourcing

Outsourcing legal work to a vendor, law firm or overseas resource has become an increasingly favorable trend for law firms. Streamlined by new technology, LPO continues to cut expenses and reduce workload overflow. It can be a huge factor in scaling your business and managing workflow. LPO technology firms that market to the legal industry are on the rise. They’ll be coming after you in 2017 to present their case. When they do, listen.

Reviews and testimonials

Adding positive reviews to Google+, Yelp and Avvo is critical to growing your business and managing your reputation. 72 percent of consumers said they trusted companies more when they have positive customer reviews, according to a BrightLocal survey in 2014. The number of people reading online reviews is increasing, so take steps to post reviews in 2017. If you can’t get customers to go on record, that’s OK. According to the data, consumer trust increases even when the reviews are anonymous.

Portals and online document repositories

Cloud-based online document repositories provide secure, on-demand access to records for you, your clients, and your team members. You can store, organize, view, and change files.

More customers want instant gratification and access to their documents and records. It’s relatively easy to set up, makes for a better consumer experience, and can save you time from fielding emails and sending attachments. Make sure your clients have this access in 2017!

So there you have it. Six new trends that aren’t entirely new, per se, but are increasingly important as our industry ventures forth into the brave new world of 2017.

Lawyers like to err on the side of caution. Many of us are slow to embrace new technology or rock the boat. Historically, we get hung up asking ourselves whether we can afford to take such risks.

But what we need to be asking is: Can we afford not to?

At the end of 2016, the answer is a resounding no.

Who Can I Sue If My Kid Is Injured on a Playground?

Legal concepts like “duty of care” or negligent supervision, and even immunity, are used by states to determine liability after a child has been seriously injured on a playground. Playgrounds come in all sorts of sizes and designs, all manufactured for different ages and level of activity. They can be on private grounds like a neighbor’s house, or on public property like a state park or beach. Most often, injuries that occur on playgrounds are caused by reckless behavior and misuse of the equipment, but other times, it can be from defective equipment, poor assembly, and more.

It is understandable that some parents might suspect that their child’s serious injury could have been caused by something or someone else. In this case, it is wise for families to learn their rights, as well as, the legal systems used to make these kinds of judgements and more. Continue reading to learn whether or not a person can sue if their child is seriously injured on a playground.

Playground Liabilities

Playgrounds on school properties, like daycares and grade schools, are under the responsibility of the school. For this reason, schools and children’s centers have a legal duty of care to protect kids from any foreseeable hazards on school property, including playgrounds. If a child is injured as a result of a hazard that should have been foreseeable and prevented, parents may have a valid personal injury claim against the school.

For example, let’s say a child swinging on a swing-set is injured because the top wooden plank holding the chains breaks off as a result of decay and rot. In this case, the school failed to meet their duty of care because they neglected to replace the rotting wood before an accident happened.

Schools have a responsibility of regularly inspecting their property and grounds for hazards and other structural issues. By not noticing the rotted wood, or by failing to resolve it in a timely fashion, the school carries the liability for the child’s injuries. A claim could very well be brought against them.

Aside from a school’s “duty of care”, there is another legal concept called negligent supervision that can also determine liability. Negligent supervision occurs when a person (i.e. teacher, daycare attendant, babysitter, etc.) is given the responsibility of supervising a child (or children) but neglects that responsibility, causing injury or trauma to the child that could have been prevented with proper supervision.

Schools are acting in place of parents, therefor, they have a responsibility to implement an effective system of supervision in order to protect minors from any foreseeable harm. So if a child is injured while under the care of school authorities, and the injury was caused by a lack of sufficient supervision, a family may have a valid personal injury claim against the school.

For example, playgrounds are generally monitored by teachers during recess. If there is an insufficient number of teachers for the number of children being monitored, this is a lack of supervision. Also, if said teachers are not paying attention or leave recess unattended for any number of minutes, and an accident happens that could have been avoided had an adult been watching, the school could be guilty of negligent supervision.

It is important to consult a licensed personal injury lawyer to learn your rights to compensation following a serious injury to yourself or your child.

Why File Encryption Is Cheap – Identity Theft Insurance Against Computer Identity Theft

With more identity information collected and conveniently stored in digital form, it has become much easier for savvy thieves to steal large amounts of personal identification information from computers, particularly from vulnerable employee laptops. The stolen information is then used or sold to become part of the huge identity theft problem facing businesses and individuals. As older methods of protecting information on the computer have proved inadequate in deterring sophisticated cyber criminals, security experts have started to recommend file encryption as a cheap and reliable method of protecting vital information.

Passwords Aren’t Enough

Although passwords are a necessary part of computer security, even the best passwords are unable to fully protect the information on a computer. Password hacking has reached the stage where almost all passwords can be broken, given enough time. Likewise, security devices for laptops may protect against easy theft, but aren’t much use against persistent identity thieves. A much more secure way to provide cheap identity theft insurance for computer files is to use file encryption. The best file encryption programs are user friendly and can be run automatically without hindering computer performance. The cost of such programs is far less than the cost of rectifying stolen identification information.

Encryption Solutions

Digital information can be encrypted in several different ways. FDE, or full disk encryption, protects data by encrypting everything on the hard drive that boots the computer. Access to the data is limited to those who can authenticate to the FDE software. Another type of encryption is virtual disk encryption in which a container is created on the disk to hold files and folders. Users cannot access the container at all without successful authentication. A third type of encryption, file or folder encryption, encrypts individual files or folders, and denies access to those without proper authentication. These files have separate encryption keys and can be managed on an individual basis. File encryption is often used when multiple users share a single computer. Cryptographic systems of this type can encrypt even the metadata belonging to the files, which can be important for identity information storage.

All encryption solutions require good management, and businesses must maintain the solutions to their encryption products. As encryption technology changes and inevitable vulnerabilities on older technologies are discovered, older devices containing identity information could be attacked and accessed by enterprising hackers. With knowledgeable management, good encryption solutions have become a crucial part of computer security.

Net Neutrality: What the FCC’s Decision Means for the US

What is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality is the philosophy that an On line service ought not to differentiate between the different websites, software programs, and services that are spread on its network. This can be privately guaranteed, by means of a written agreement between a subscriber and their Internet based Service Provider, or it may well be enforced by the government. Usually when “net neutrality” is spoken about, it refers to the idea of the government enforcing it. The agency which has taken on the objective of guaranteeing net neutrality is the Federal Communications Commission.

FCC’s Recent Net Neutrality Order

On December 21, 2010, the FCC voted in favor of making Internet based Service Providers to adopt net neutrality as a policy. The press release’s title was “FCC Acts to Preserve World-wide-web Freedom and Openness,” as only those who oppose freedom and openness may possibly be opposed to net neutrality. The second page of this section is dedicated to discussing the substantiations of the ruling.

The most sizeable portion of the FCC’s Report and Order on net neutrality was “Rule 2: No Blocking”:

A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Word wide web access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.

A individual employed in the provision involving mobile broadband Online access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block consumers from accessing lawful websites, subject to reasonable network system management; nor shall such person block applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services, subject to reasonable system management.

The effect of this law is to limit ISPs from determining when they may or may not restrict traffic. The phrase “reasonable computer network management” has its own definition listed in the Report and Order, but it is so broad that it will inevitably permit the FCC to crack down on ISPs whenever it feels like doing so. If they engage in the most common Administrative Law practice, they are likely to litigate against smaller ISPs who have a lesser chance of defending themselves.

Net Neutrality isn’t new.. It previously attempted to regulate the network management practices of Comcast-specifically Comcast’s regulation of peer-to-peer file-sharing on its system. The FCC attempted to justify its actions by stating that it had an “ancillary authority” granted by the broadly worded Communications Act of 1934, which states that the FCC is authorized to “perform any and all acts, make such rules and regulations, and issue such orders, not inconsistent with this chapter, as may be necessary in the execution of its functions” (47 U.S.C.? 154(i)). Comcast later set up a court challenge in opposition to the FCC, and in April 2010 the US Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia sided with Comcast and granted its order for review of the FCC’s decision.

In granting the order for review, the Court cited another case that it had previously decided, stating that “the allowance of wide latitude in the exercise of delegated powers is not the equivalent of untrammeled freedom to regulate activities over which the statute fails to confer… Commission authority.”

There are numerous economic and constitutional issues with the recent net neutrality legislation from the FCCThis has not stopped the FCC from taking action, however. Aside from the fact that an administrative agency is taking seemingly even greater liberties than those which were struck down in the Comcast case earlier this year, and extinguishing Congress’ wish to debate the law, the businesses which are affected are going to suffer. By simply keeping companies from determining which visitors may possibly be limited, the FCC is going to give them two choices:

1) Deal with overburdened networks;

2) Increase the aggregate network bandwidth but distribute costs evenly so that those who may use the World wide web for only basic browsing and e-mail have to pay for the iTunes downloads of someone else.

Possibly way, it will not look good for ISPs and also their particular customers who use less bandwidth than their fellow subscribers. It’s going to be interesting to watch the coming court cases over the next year or so, which ISPs and possibly affected consumers will no doubt want to launch. Our lawmakers can likely join in the fray, too.

If you would like to learn more about how the new net neutrality law affects you, or would like assistance in considering possible legal options regarding the law, please contact a qualified World wide web law attorney.

How Long Do You Have to Bring a Car Accident Claim?

There are many good reasons why you might consider delaying bringing a claim for compensation after you have been involved in a car accident.

It is likely that your initial thoughts are going to revolve around any injury to yourself and any others in the vehicle with you. You will be seeking medical attention, not solicitors. Then, once the shock has passed your focus is likely to shift onto your recovery. You may be trying to anticipate how this injury will impact your daily life and what you can do to manage this. It can be months or even years before your thoughts turn to any potential claim that you may have.

In other instances, I have met with clients who have considered bringing a claim and decided against it initially but later gone on to change their minds when it has become apparent that their injury is far more severe than they first believed it to be.

Overall there is a multitude of reasons why you wouldn’t bring a claim immediately after suffering a road traffic accident. But how long can you delay?

Under UK law you cannot delay indefinitely, there is a strict time limit as to how long you have to bring a claim. Under the Limitation Act, you only have three years before your claim must be issued at Court. That’s three years from the date of your accident to you physically lodging your claim form with the local Court.

This time limit exists to keep our legal system fair to both Claimants (people bringing claims) and Defendants (those defending claims). It would be unfair if a Defendant could be sued decades after causing an accident, there should be a time when you can draw a line under it and move on. But at the same time Claimant’s will need a certain amount of time to build their claim and get themselves in a position where they are well enough, both mentally and physically, to bring a claim. The UK legislators have declared through the Limitation Act that three years is fair to both Claimants and Defendants.

However, there are some exceptions, certain situations that can extend or reduce the limitation deadline.

If you were under 18 when you were involved in a road traffic accident, then you have until your 21st birthday to lodge your claim at Court. This is three years after your 18th birthday, as the limitation ticking clocks starts running when you turn 18. However, you do not have to wait until you are 18 to bring a claim if you are under 18 you can ask a litigation friend (usually a parent or legal guardian) to bring a claim for you on your behalf while you are underage.

If the person bringing the claim does not have mental capacity then there is no time limit for a claim to be brought. A litigation friend (usually a guardian or legal attorney) can bring a claim on their behalf as long as it is in their best interests to do so.

Beware, however, if you have been involved in a road traffic accident while abroad, other countries have different limitations. Although that being said, you may still be eligible to claim under UK law. You should discuss any potential claim with a solicitor as soon as you are able.

If you miss the limitation deadline for your claim, then you could lose your right to pursue it all together. However, if there is an excellent reason for you missing the deadline, then you can ask the Courts permission to pursue your claim, despite missing the deadline. You will have to explain in detail to the Court why you missed the deadline and you will need a perfect reason for doing so (such as being in a coma and unable to make a claim). Merely being unaware of the limitation deadline is not a good enough excuse.

The Court will then consider your reasons, as well as looking at what disadvantage you and the Defendant will suffer if they decide either way.

The Court can take into consideration, why you delayed or missed the deadline, what the delay will do to the evidence in the claim, will it damage it or reduce it? They will also review your conduct and the Defendant’s conduct. Did you struggle to identify the Defendant? Did they deliberately mislead or take steps to prevent you identifying them? Have you worked hard to advance your claim in other respects such as obtaining evidence medical or physical?

It is impossible to predict if the Court will grant you an extension of the limitation deadline. The best advice is not to miss the deadline in the first place.

In conclusion, if you have suffered a road traffic accident you have three years from the date of the accident to bring a claim unless you are under 18 or lack mental capacity.

However, if you plan on bringing a claim, you should not wait until the end of the deadline to do so. There is a lot of work involved in bringing a claim, and if you are using a solicitor, they will need time to build your case. If you are pursuing the claim yourself, the sooner you start, the better as you will be putting extra pressure on yourself if you delay. Once a claim is issued at Court, it becomes subject to strict Court deadlines so beware.

What Are the Circumstances of Uninsured Car Accidents and Liability Claims?

Motor vehicle accidents happen every day, and we all take the chance of being injured in one every time we get inside a car. Car accident injuries are generally covered by a person’s own insurance policy, but if they are injured by another driver, it is that driver’s insurance policy that covers a person’s damages. Most responsible drivers have insurance coverage that pays for any damages they might have caused in a motor vehicle accident.

But what happens if an at-fault driver does not have car insurance, liability insurance, or any other type of medical payments coverage? This can be troublesome since some car accident injuries can be life-changing and traumatic. Continue reading to learn more about uninsured motorist accidents and liability claims.

Uninsured Drivers

Unfortunately, there are irresponsible drivers out on the road that neglect their legal obligation to obtain and carry sufficient liability insurance for their vehicle. When these drivers are the ones that cause serious accidents, they have no other choice but to pay out-of-pocket for the other drivers’ medical expenses, hospital bills, vehicle repairs, and more. Not only would an at-fault driver be obligated to pay for the other drivers’ losses, they would be issues state fines and face possible misdemeanor charges for negligently causing an accident and not being insured.

It is possible for an uninsured driver to flee the scene of an accident because they are not operating a vehicle legally. When this happens, it is important to make a police report immediately so that law enforcement can track them down and hold them accountable for the damages they caused. They would also be charged with a crime since it is illegal to flee the scene of an accident. If they cannot be tracked down, the only way an injured driver can recover for their losses is if they have their own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This kind of coverage pays for vehicle damages, medical expenses, hospital bills, and various other significant losses resulting from the accident.

If a person is injured in a car accident by a driver that does not have any insurance, and they themselves do not carry their own uninsured/underinsured motorist policy, they would have to take the at-fault party to court for recompense. If that person is nowhere to be found, or does not have any significant assets or wages to garnish, then the injured driver is left in the dust and must collect what they can from their own car insurance policy. This is why it is vital to hire a seasoned car accident lawyer if you are ever injured by an uninsured driver. They retain the proper resources and knowledge to organize your legal claim and negotiate your settlement with opposing insurance parties.

Copyright Violations Work Both Ways on the Internet

As you probably know, and this is already happening in Europe; publishers, music companies, and film companies want to have websites pulled down, ISPs fined and/or shut down if they are found to have copyrighted material on them. As a writer, this sounds like a good idea to me, because I can’t tell you how often my articles are stolen, and I find them somewhere on the Internet with someone else’s name attached. Yet, I see another problem to all of this, and I’d like to explain it to you.

First, many publishers are angry because they are finding their books reproduced, republished, and even posted on the Internet, and therefore they lose out on the revenue. You certainly can’t blame them for being upset, and as I explained as a writer I can’t either. However, if they are allowed to fill out a form with some secret Internet committee, and that group can go and pull down a website, they we’re going to have huge problems in the future. Anyone that has an Internet forum, blog network, or anything like that cannot possibly police every single person that posts a blog, article, or comment. Do you see that point?

Now then, I’d like to bring a case in point because there was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on November 8, 2011. The article was titled; “Spy Thriller: an Instant Classic-Vanishes amid Plagiarism Charges-Publisher Recalls Novel after Passages Discovered Mimicking Bond, James Bond,” by Jeffrey A Trachtenberg. Okay so, can you see the problem here? Here is a company that sells books and e-books, and it found out one of its authors had plagiarized a spy novel. Worse, the company sold 8000 copies before anyone noticed. In fact, the article stated;

“Our reviewer didn’t pick up anything suspicious, and a reader commenting on an online forum devoted to James Bond noted the similarity in the material. The online forum comment poster was able to identify at least 13 novels from which the material was similar, using Google books search engine.”

Well, there you have it. Should that publisher’s website be shut down, and taken off-line for copyright violations? Fair is fair, the publishers seem to want to be able to control other people’s ISPs and websites, and have the power to turn them off. Are you beginning to see the problems we are going to have in the future with these laws? I surely do, and I fear that it may cause less information to end up online, and allow others to control the flow of information for their own personal gain.

Having control to turn off ISPs and websites based on copyright law could turn into a can of worms and give far too much power to those who would use it corruptly. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

Starting a Tax Exempt Organization

The term 501(c)(3) refers to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, where the rules and regulations governing exempt organizations are found. Tax exempt organizations are commonly referred to as 501(c)(3). 501(c)(3) includes both public charities and private foundations.

Being a tax exempt organization is not an astatic thing. It’s a process with a lifecycle to it. The normal five steps to the life cycle of a tax exempt organization include:-

  • Starting out
  • Applying for exemption
  • Required filings
  • Ongoing compliance and
  • Significant events.

Starting out and applying for exemptions are unique because you should only do them once for any single organization. You need to create an organization under your state’s law. Your state will have rules that you would likely make your organizations purpose to qualify as a non-profit, which is a state level classification. The organizations, organizing documents are its Articles of Incorporation. For unincorporated organizations, it’s Charter, Constitution, and Articles of Association. The organizing document must have a clause that limits the organization’s purposes to one or more of the exempt purpose listed in the IRS code. It’s most not expressly empowers the organization to engage in activities that are not in furtherance of its exempt purposes. It should have a dissolution clause. Assets of the organization must be permanently dedicated to an exempt purpose described under Section 501(c)(3). By-laws are different from the organizing documents. By-laws are organization’s internal operating rules. Federal law doesn’t require specific language in the by-laws of most organizations. However, state law may require you to have by-laws, so it’s a good idea to contact the state to find out its specific requirements.

When you are creating your organization, you may need to create organization documents based upon the requirements of your state. You will need these when you apply for tax exemption. When you apply for tax exemption, which is a federal level status, you will need to acquire an employer identification number (EIN). Even though you don’t have any employees you would still need an EIN which is similar to your personal social security number, but it’s only for your business. It would identify you to the IRS. It’s normally issued by the IRS. Apply for EIN through different ways.

  • Apply online.
  • Complete the required form and fax it to the IRS.
  • Mail the form to the IRS.
  • You can even apply for EIN by telephone.

All EIN applications must disclose the name and tax payer identification number of the true principal officer, general partner, grantor, or owner, whom the IRS would call as “Responsible Party”.

In order to apply for tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3), you have to fill out relevant forms and submit with user fees. User fees are based upon the gross receipts. Total money an organization receives from all sources before taking out costs or expenses. It’s based upon the gross receipts an organization received/plants to receive over a four year plan. Generally an organization is required to apply for recognition of exemption with the IRS within 27 months from the end of the month in which it was organized for its exemption to be effective from its date of formation. When certain requirements are met, this deadline can be extended. Normally on receipt of application and user fees, the IRS approves simple applications within 90 days or less. IRS would have an Exempt Organization Specialist assigned to process complex application which needs substantial data and takes more than 90 days to process. In some cases, it may take up to six months. Determination letter recognizing exempt status which shows foundation classification and permanent records required for public disclosures would be issued by the IRS.

Churches, including synagogues, temples and mosques are not required to apply, yet they are still exempt from federal income tax and the contributions they receive are tax deductible, but they can still apply. Most of them apply to receive the determination letter that proves their tax-exempt status and specifies that contributions to them are tax deductible.

Churches, schools, organizations providing medical or hospital care are statutory charities. Other public charities are organizations that receive significant public support including organizations that provide support to other public charities.

In order to qualify an organization as a public charity, it has to pass the organization and operational test, broad public support etc.

Organizational test:- The organization limits its purpose to one or more of the exempt purpose listed in Section 501(c)(3). It does not permit the organization to engage in non-exempt activity and assets of the organization must be permanently dedicated to an exempt purpose. For the operational test, the organization must show that its principal activities will be to further its exempt purpose. The organization also has to limit the participation in certain types of activities and absolutely refrain from other prohibited activities.

To demonstrate public support the organization has to show that it receives substantial support and contributions from publicly supported organization, governmental units and or the general public or no more than 1/3 support from gross investment income and unrelated business income combined and more than 1/3 support from contributions, membership fees and gross receipts from activities related to exempt functions. In this a good record keeping is an important factor.

The IRS assesses the activities and the test is conducted when you are first applying for tax-exempt status. When the organization after receiving the 501(c)(3) status engages in prohibited activities, you could lose your tax-exempt status and would be subjected to both taxes and penalties. Churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches and an organization that is not a private foundation and the gross receipts of which in each taxable year are normally not more than $5000 are normally treated under public charity. When an organization qualifies as a 501(c)(3) organization, the IRS presumes it’s a private foundation unless it can show that it’s a public charity.

The main difference is where the organization’s financial support comes from. Generally a public charity has a broad base of support while a private foundation has very limited sources of support. There are also different tax rules like private foundations are subject to excise taxes that aren’t imposed on public charities.

Normally the IRS grants public charity status when it passes the public charity test for the initial five years, based upon the predicted support is treated as a public charity regardless of actual support. From year 6 onwards, the IRS based on information provided in annual reporting, it’s calculated for current year plus four previous years.

Group exemption letters are issued by IRS for smaller group associated with a single central group. They can apply as a group and there is no need for individual application. Group exemption letters have the same effect as individual letters.

Post application, organizations may operate as a tax exempt organization while waiting for approval. Donors have no assurance that their contributions will be deductible until application is approved. While waiting for the approval, the organization may follow the procedure for record keeping, keeping detailed records of financial and non-financial activities.

The benefits of Section 501(c)(3) status is that, the organization gets exemption from federal income tax, tax-deductible contributions and reduced postal rates. Possible exemption from State income, sales and employment taxes. The organization can receive tax-exempt financing.

The status comes with responsibilities. 501(c)(3) organization is organized and operated exclusively for exempt purpose that are: Religious, Charitable, Scientific, Testing for public safety, literacy or educational, designed to foster national or international amateur sports competitions, for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals. Recordkeeping is another important aspect. The organization has to keep detailed records of financial and non-financial records. IRS Publication, compliance guide has information on why you need to keep records, what records you should keep, and how long to keep your records. Most public charities recognized as tax-exempt are required to file an annual information return. Good records make it easier to complete your required annual filings. The organization is required to make public certain documents that you file with the IRS, but not all of your records. Following documents on request have to be provided. The organization’s annual returns for its three most recent years after the due date, including any extensions. All Form 990 schedules (except for donor names and address), their attachments, and supporting documents. Determination letter from the IRS showing that the organization has been granted tax-exempt status. The organization is not responsible for providing free meeting space.

Priority Legislation for Nevada

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending sessions of our state legislature. I am a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association and also the facilitator of my local support group and I am devoted to all causes that will help those who have this horrendous disease and those who are caregivers and family members. Our agenda included legislation to ensure that caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are included in explanations and instructions when the loved one is released from the hospital. Sometimes those with these cognitive impairments are simply permitted to drive home (scary!) or placed in a taxi (maybe scarier) to head home in confusion. With instructions that make no sense and an unsettled, unclear mind, who knows what dangers may lurk.

A second bill protects cognitively impaired elders from financial abuse by guardians. Other bills focused on protecting those with dementia from negligence and exploitation by caregivers and to strengthen the penalties related to these offenses. I cannot even imagine such terrible behavior in caregivers but I know that the number of people who prey on those who are unable to make wise decisions or to protect themselves is astronomical.

We were also there to support the encouragement of dementia-related training for health care providers, first responders, and workers in skilled nursing facilities. Having worked on part of this proposal I wish we could have been more forceful. The word encourage means urge, foster, persuade, and nurture all of which are nice verbs and kind responses but they mean nothing as far action is concerned. I felt like I needed to don my old cheerleader uniform and perform cartwheels and rallying cries as I “encouraged” this critical need. Team members assured me that this is an essential first step toward legislation, however, since Nevada convenes every other year, 2017 is a long way off. In the meantime thousands of individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias will suffer needlessly.

Suppose a loved one is out wandering and is spotted by an untrained patrol officer. The wanderer, in cognitive confusion or misunderstanding, may refuse to comply with orders to “Halt” or “Place your hands on your head”. Fear may lead to running, verbal or physical attacks, or other displays provoked by bewilderment and muddled thought processing. Handcuffs might create wild terror; being shoved into a police care may render the victim to kicking, screaming, and biting. “What is your name?” may draw a blank stare. “Where do you live?” may invoke tears. A trained office would know to approach with calm as s/he reads the eyes and demeanor and understands why simple questions made no sense, using gentleness rather than force.

As it is, on this last bill, I must restrain my eagerness and work to ease my worry as I work to educate friends, my community, and my state in the wisdom of educating everyone about Alzheimer’s disease. As the number one killer in the United States and with over 5 million diagnosed cased of a disease with no cure, no prevention, and no reversal, we all must sit up and take notice and then move into action for education and training. We will all be safer.

1 2 3 7