The nonprofit that oversees the Louisiana Technology Park in Baton Rouge appears headed for a change in its tax-exempt status that will allow “substantial” lobbying efforts under Internal Revenue Service rules.
Research Park Corp.’s executive committee voted Thursday to bring the idea before the full board.
So far this year, the nonprofit has paid Courson Nickel $117,500, or about 4 percent of its total expenditures, for lobbying the state Legislature, Chief Executive Officer Byron Clayton said. During the last session, lawmakers looked at a number of incentives, such as those for developing video games and for investing in startups, which affect the Tech Park and its current and future clients.
“We just thought we needed to keep tabs on what was happening,” Clayton said.
But the increased spending could move the nonprofit into the gray area the IRS defines as substantial lobbying, Clayton said. The IRS doesn’t have a specific definition for “substantial,” but it’s generally considered about 5 percent of expenditures.
Research Park can avoid any problem by shifting from being a 501(c)3 organization to a 501(h). Research Park would remain a nonprofit but could spend up to $225,000 a year on lobbying, plus 5 percent of the expenditures over $1.5 million.
Research Park accountants LaPorte CPAs and legal adviser Jones Walker recommended the move. In an Aug. 24 memo to the committee, Tech Park Director of Finance Genevieve Silverman said the National Council of Nonprofits recommends nonprofits avoid uncertainty by making the shift.