The IRS has provided notice that effective May 28, 2019, it will be expanding the methods by which a tax-exempt independent school, college or university (a “school”) can satisfy the required disclosure of its racially nondiscriminatory policy by now permitting schools to publish such policy on the school’s website.
The IRS currently requires that schools adopt and annually publicize a racially nondiscriminatory policy regarding students. The policy must provide, at minimum, that:
- The 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; and
- The school 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 publication requirement obligates a school to make its policy known to all segments of the general community served by the school. Currently, a school may satisfy this requirement by the following two methods:
- Publishing, at least once annually, a notice of its racially nondiscriminatory policy in a newspaper of general circulation that serves all racial segments of the community; or
- Use the broadcast media to publicize its racially nondiscriminatory policy, provided that the means by which the policy is communicated is reasonably expected to be effective.
The New Third Method
Commencing on May 28, 2019, the IRS will permit a school to publicize its policy through the school’s website. More specifically, IRS Revenue Procure 2019-22 provides that a school may display a notice of its nondiscriminatory policy on its primary publicly accessible Internet homepage at all times during its taxable year (excluding temporary outages due to website maintenance or technical problems) in a manner reasonably expected to be noticed by visitors to the homepage. In determining whether a website is reasonably expected to be noticed, IRS provides the following additional guidance:
- A publicly accessible homepage is one that does not require a visitor to input information, such as an email address or a username and password, to access the homepage.
- Factors to be considered in determining whether a notice is reasonably expected to be noticed by visitors to the homepage include the size, color, and graphic treatment of the notice in relation to other parts of the homepage, whether the notice is unavoidable, whether other parts of the homepage distract attention from the notice, and whether the notice is visible without a visitor having to do anything other than simple scrolling on the homepage.
- A link on the homepage to another page where the notice appears, or a notice that appears in a carousel or only by selecting a dropdown or by hover (mouse-over) is not acceptable.
- If a school does not have its own website, but it has webpages contained in a website, the school must display a notice of its racially nondiscriminatory policy on its primary landing page within the website in a manner that satisfies all other requirements described above.
If you have questions regarding the information contained above, please contact Ray Casella at (860) 251-5808.