How Bob Helps Clients
Robert A. Johnson advises a variety of tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, e.g., charitable (including, among others, health care organizations, private foundations, churches and religious organizations, scientific research organizations, and economic development organizations (IRC § 501(c)(3)); social welfare organizations (IRC § 501(c)(4)); business leagues and trade associations (IRC § 501(c)(6)); social clubs (IRC § 501(c)(7)); fraternal beneficiary societies (IRC § 501(c)(8)); and voluntary employees’ beneficiary associations (IRC § 501(c)(9)).
Bob’s advice has encompassed a broad range of issues, including, among others, corporate organization and operation, corporate transactions, obtaining and maintaining federal tax-exempt status, IRS audits, for-profit and nonprofit subsidiaries and affiliated entities, governance and conflicts of interest, joint ventures, unrelated business income, lobbying restrictions and prohibited political activities, the rules prohibiting private inurement and provision of more than incidental private benefits, intermediate sanctions and excess benefit transactions, preparation of IRS Form 990, FIN 48 (accounting standards for disclosure of uncertain tax positions), and special issues regarding compensation and employee benefits for nonprofits. He has also provided assistance on tax-exemption issues related to tax-exempt bond financings.
What are you really trying to achieve? Let’s see if we can get you there (or close to it).
Bob has also practiced employee benefits law since 1971. His employee benefits practice has included pension plans, “rabbi” trusts, 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans and 457 plans for tax-exempt organizations, nonqualified deferred compensation, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), executive employment and change-of-control agreements, welfare plans, ERISA, and related tax problems. In addition, he has decades of experience in dealing with employee benefit plan issues in business acquisitions, divestitures, and major financing transactions.
Bob was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2018 in Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law and Nonprofit/Charities Law.
Outside the Office
A crazed fan of the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins, Bob has held season tickets since 1972. He is an avid reader of political opinion journals and books on history and philosophy. When not reading, Bob listens to classical music (especially music of the Renaissance, Baroque, and early “Classical” periods, aka “early music”) or university lectures on his daily six-mile walk. Mostly, he enjoys spending time with his wife Selina, a constant nonprofit volunteer, their two grown children and their children's spouses. During the summer, Bob frequents the Chautauqua Institution in Western NY.
- Obtained IRC § 501(c)(3) exemption for a “green” scientific research organization, including status as a “supporting organization” to a similar Canadian nonprofit organization (not classified as a “charity” under Canadian law). The application required us to demonstrate that the Canadian organization would qualify as a 501(c)(3) scientific research organization, and a public charity” if it were organized and operated in the U.S.
- Obtained IRC § 501(c)(3) exemption, including recognition as a “public charity”, for a hospital. The application required documentation of almost 500 pages.
- Prepared five lump sum “window” (limited-election-period) distribution offers to terminated-vested participants in defined benefit pension plans. Clients included one large public company, one mid-size public company (two window offers), a 501(c)(3) exempt charitable organization, and a 501(c)(7) exempt social club.
- Obtained favorable IRS determination letter on the tax-qualification of a defined benefit pension plan which included a “Qualified Reduction in Force Benefit”, the functional equivalent of a usually-forbidden “severance” benefit for laid-off employees.
- Assisted in the successful defense of an IRC § 501(c)(3) against an IRS audit examining executive compensation.
Harvard University, J.D., 1969, cum laude
Washington and Jefferson College, A.B., 1966, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Fellow, American College of Tax Counsel (elected)
Fellow, American College of Employee Benefits Counsel (elected)
Fellow, American Bar Foundation (elected)
Past chair, Allegheny Tax Society
Pittsburgh Tax Club
Member, American Health Lawyers Association
Member, employee benefits committee and exempt organizations committee, American Bar Association Section of Taxation
American Bar Association Section of Health Care Law
Member, nonprofit organizations committee, American Bar Association Business Law Section
Member, audit committee and exempt organizations committee, Allegheny County Bar Association
Pro Bono Counsel (former Director and President) of Early Music America (Pittsburgh, PA)
Pro Bono Counsel and Director of Renaissance & Baroque, an early music concert series in Pittsburgh
Treasurer of the Friends of the Music Library (Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh)
Director, Secretary and Pro Bono Counsel of the CTC Foundation, Johnstown, PA
Pro Bono Counsel (and former Director) of the River City Brass Band, Pittsburgh, PA
Director and Pro Bono Counsel of the River City Brass Band Charitable Endowment
Director (former Co-president) of Chatham Baroque, Pittsburgh, PA
Former Trustee and Chair, Budget/Finance Committee, of the Presbyterian Association of Chautauqua, N.Y.