Jonathan T. McCants
For nearly a quarter century, Jonathan has formed, exempted and served charities, churches, ministries, private foundations and other exempt organizations as corporate, tax counsel and outside general counsel. His practice helps nonprofits clarify, refine and pursue their missions domestically and around the world.
Jonathan began practicing in 1997 with a primary focus in litigation before shifting his focus area to nonprofit organization law in 2003. Nearly two decades later, he continues to focus his practice on the representation of nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations, although he continues to find his litigation background to be beneficial, particularly in negotiating disputes with third parties, the IRS and other regulators.
Jonathan oversees the nonprofit organizations practice area of the firm, which has formed and exempted successfully over a thousand organizations, including Section 501(c)(3) organizations such as private foundations, public charities, educational institutions, churches, religious ministries and supporting organizations, and he gives regular consultation to clients in a variety of areas affecting such organizations. He also advises other exempt organizations, particularly Section 501(c)(2), (c)(4), (c)(6) and (c)(7) organizations. Jonathan also has served as the Religious Organizations columnist for one of the leading publications focusing on laws affecting exempt organizations, Taxation of Exempts, published by Thomson Reuters.
Jonathan regularly serves as outside general counsel to his clients, advising on a range of matters such as corporate structure, tax reporting, fundraising and donor interaction, intellectual property, employment matters, litigation threats, the creation and management of taxable and exempt subsidiaries, and international activities. In this role, he seeks to address clients’ potential legal issues with a wholistic view of how to advance the client’s mission.
Jonathan began his legal career with a heavy interest and involvement in racial reconciliation work, beginning as an editor with the Harvard Human Rights Journal and an internship in South Africa with a Cape Town firm charged with advising that country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. From there, he became an associate with the Wells Marble law firm in Jackson, Mississippi, which is the oldest continuous law firm in that state. While there, he lived in the urban community of west Jackson and worked with numerous nonprofits, several of which were founded by the civil rights pioneer, John Perkins. At Wells Marble, his primary practice focus was litigation, which remained the case after transitioning to the firm in 2000.
He shifted his primary focus to serving nonprofit organizations in 2003, before joining the partnership in 2005 and becoming the firm’s lead nonprofit partner in 2009.
Jonathan and his wife, Amanda, have been married since 2002 and have four children. When he is away from work, Jonathan enjoys spending time and traveling with his wife and children, along with running and participating in any sport that involves water or snow.
Among the nonprofit organizations that Jonathan regularly represents are the following:
Public Charitable Institutions: Formed and exempted a wide range of public charities, such as churches, schools and colleges, foreign relief organizations, “friends of” organizations, health organizations, and many others. Regular consultation of such organizations involving a wide range of topics, including contracts, IRS compliance, employee matters, charitable solicitation and charitable gift annuity registration, intellectual property management, estate contests, and Form 990 and 990T questions.
Private Foundations: Formed and exempted many grantmaking and operating private foundations. Regularly advises both small and large foundations (assets in excess of $250 million) on IRS compliance and a complete range of legal needs.
Supporting Organizations: Formed and exempted many Section 509(a)(3) organizations, from Type 1 controlled organizations to non-functionally integrated Type 3 organizations, and regularly advises organizations on compliance in the post-Pension Protection Act landscape.
Community Foundations and Donor Advised Fund (DAF) Sponsors: Formed and exempted community foundations and regularly advises public foundations and other charities offering DAFs (with revenues from less than $1 million to in excess of $2 billion) regarding compliance with IRS requirements.
Broadcast Media Organizations: Formed and exempted broadcast media charities, and regularly advises them on a full range of matters, from IRS political activity and lobbying restrictions to copyright matters to representation before the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board and the Copyright Collective of Canada for distribution of retransmission royalties.
Non-charitable Nonprofits: Formed and exempted, and regularly advises, social welfare and action organizations (described in § 501(c)(4)), social clubs (501(c)(7)), business associations (501(c)(6)), and title-holding nonprofits (501(c)(2) and (25), or disregarded LLCs)
Publications, Presentations & Recognitions
Religious Organizations column, Taxation of Exempts, 2008-2016
Religious Organizations in an Election Year: Will the Johnson Amendment be Repealed, or Just
Ignored?, 28 Taxation of Exempts 39, Nov.-Dec. 2016
Does Bob Jones Support Exemption Revocations after Obergefell?, 27 Taxation of Exempts 43, Jan.-Feb. 2016
Indispensable or Indefensible? Tax Privileges and Exemptions for Churches and Ministers, 26 Taxation of Exempts 44, 2014
Final Rules for Type III Supporting Organizations, 24 Taxation of Exempts 3, 2013
International Reporting Obligations of Religious Organizations, 23 Taxation of Exempts 39, 2012
Ministerial Housing Allowance in the Dock, 22 Taxation of Exempts 44, 2010
The IRS Goes Back to the Drawing Board on Church Tax Inquiries, 21 Taxation of Exempts 43, Sept.-Oct. 2009
Political Activity and Religious Charities—Ban Under Attack, 20 Taxation of Exempts 45, Nov.-Dec. 2008
Double Trouble in an Election Year, 19 Taxation of Exempts 42, May-June 2008
The Treasury’s Revised Guidelines on International Grantmaking, 16 Taxation of Exempts 13, July-Aug. 2006
Georgia Rising Star, Nonprofit Organizations by Super Lawyers
Board of Editors, Harvard Human Rights Journal, 1996-1997
Phi Beta Kappa
Pi Sigma Alpha (national political science honor society)
Richard Furman Scholarship (history)
Professional and Civic Activities
Jonathan is a member of the Christian Legal Society and has served in a variety of board and officer positions for nonprofits through the years, as well as in volunteer and leadership positions within his church, Fellowship Bible Church of Roswell.
News & Insights
J.D., Harvard Law School
B.A., History and B.A., Political Science, Furman University