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Reader Question – Proxy Voting at Annual Meeting


Jo asks:

Can person(s) have a proxy for an Annual Congregational meeting when voting on the annual church budget?  Are there any guidelines of when it is permissible to have a proxy if you cannot attend a meeting because of what the person deems as an important reason?


Greg McRay responds:

Whether or not proxy voting is allowed depends on two things: state law and your bylaws. The IRS is silent on the matter. First, you need to know if your state nonprofit corporate law allows proxy voting. Many states, like the IRS, are silent on the issue, but some are not. Assuming it’s OK with your state, your bylaws need to specifically allow for it and spell out how it must work to be legitimate.

Also, some churches operate as an unincorporated association, in which case state corporate law wouldn’t apply. You would rely solely on the bylaws in most cases.

From time to time, we highlight a reader question that was submitted in response to another article. We try to pick questions that will resonate with a broad audience. In other words, if the asker is wondering about this issue, many others probably are, as well!

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Greg McRay is the founder and CEO of The Foundation Group. He is registered with the IRS as an Enrolled Agent and specializes in 501(c)(3) and other tax exemption issues.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. The organization was formed September 1, 1981, as Woodland Shores Property Owners Association, Inc., a non profit, 501 (c) 3 tax exempt corporation. There is no record of application for tax exempt status, and no record of filing annual tax returns. Ignorant or ill-educated administrations have deflected need for IRS reporting or compliance by asserting they had been told by board members’ personal tax preparer or attorney, that it had inconsequential significance, or it would be very complicated to become in compliance with IRS code. No 1099s are filed, even for board members who do business with the association. in conflict with IRS “conflict of interest” regulations. Cannot get ship of fools turned on a compliance course, yet they still solicit members’ contributions as tax exempt. It just recently awarded its president a no-bid contract for constructing a concrete retaining wall not to exceed $100,000.

    1. And, I suspect “donors” typically have claimed tax-deductibility for the gifts, even though the org isn’t an approved 501c3. An even bigger kicker is that HOAs and POAs don’t qualify for 501c3 status. If they qualify at all for IRS tax-exemption, it’s as a 501c4. This has train-wreck written all over it. I wouldn’t want to be on that board!

  2. It’s handy to keep a copy of your bylaws within easy access to answer questions like this. I’ve seen lots of nonprofits that don’t have any idea where their bylaws are.

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