Shira Helstrom

Partner
Shira partners with tax-exempt nonprofit organizations to help them make critical business and legal decisions, manage risk, and achieve their mission goals in compliance with applicable federal tax and state nonprofit laws.
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Shira advises tax-exempt organizations and their for-profit affiliates on a wide range of operational, programmatic, transactional, and governance matters that are regulated under the Internal Revenue Code and the state charitable and nonprofit laws. She counsels public charities, private foundations, social welfare organizations and trade associations through incorporation, obtaining federal and state tax-exempt status and operating in compliance with their tax-exempt nonprofit status.

Clients rely on Shira for advice on the unrelated business income tax, private benefit and inurement, excess benefit transactions and self-dealing, excess business holdings, jeopardizing investments, impact investments, lobbying, political campaign activity, executive compensation, and fiduciary duties of board members. Shira also helps structure complex grants and charitable solicitation programs (including commercial co-ventures, corporate sponsorships, and virtual fundraising), and she works with clients to navigate the state charitable solicitation laws that apply to them. She also represents tax-exempt organizations in front of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and during state attorney general investigations.

In addition to helping clients obtain and maintain tax-exempt status, Shira works with nonprofit boards to improve governance practices and develop effective governance structures. She also helps clients to structure major corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, spin-offs, and other reorganizations, as well as joint ventures and collaborations with both tax-exempt and for-profit partners. Shira advises clients on federal tax and state nonprofit regulations, and when necessary or advisable helps them to obtain private letter rulings from the IRS and approvals from state attorneys general.

Shira’s clients represent a broad range of industries, including medical and scientific research organizations, operating and nonoperating foundations, museums and cultural organizations, educational organizations, humanitarian organizations, health and wellness organizations, standards development and certification organizations, “friends of” organizations, corporate foundations, family foundations, supporting organizations, and trade associations.

Publications, Presentations & Recognitions

Publications

  • “Intermediate Sanctions,” (co-author) BNA Portfolio, 476-2nd TM 
  • “Department of the Treasury’s Policy Statement on the Tax Regulatory Process: Explanation and Analysis,” (co-author) FBA Inside Basis (Spring 2019)
  • “A Look at New IRS Guidance for Nonprofits Calculating UBTI,” Law 360 (Sep. 2018)
  •  “Tax-Exempt Organization Restructurings Made Easier,” (co-author) Law360 (Mar. 2018)

Presentations

  • “Keeping up with the Cryptdashians: Technology and Cyberspace for the Nonprofit Organization Board,” American Bar Association, Business Law Section Annual Meeting (Sep. 2022) 
  • “Advanced UBIT Issues,” Georgetown Law CLE: 38th Annual Representing and Managing Tax-Exempt Organizations, Washington, DC (Apr. 2021)
  • “Endowments & Restricted Funds Webcast,” DC Bar Exempt Organization Series, Washington, DC (Jun. 2020)
  • “Unrelated Business Income Tax Overview,” Georgetown Law CLE: 36th Annual Representing and Managing Tax-Exempt Organizations, Washington, DC (Apr. 2019)
  • “Requests for Changes in Methods of Accounting,” DC Bar Association, Washington, DC (2015)
  • “Handling IRS Summonses in Audits and Tax Litigation,” CEB Webinar (2015)

Recognitions

  • Rising Star, Tax: Not-for-Profit (nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations), The Legal 500 US (2020-2022)

Boards, Memberships & Certifications

Memberships

  • American Bar Association, Exempt Organizations, Section of Taxation, Member
  • American Bar Association, Nonprofit Organizations, Business Law Section, Member
  • Task Force to Revise MNCA, Model Nonprofit Corporation Act Subcommittee, Business Law Section, American Bar Association