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Frequently Asked Questions about General Counsel

Is the university a 501(c)(3) entity?

The Office of General Counsel is often asked if the University is a 501(c)(3) entity under the Internal Revenue Code. It is not. The following is the text of an informational memo prepared by our office on the Tax Exempt Status of the University:

Central Michigan University is a body corporate established by Article 8, sections 4 and 6 of the Constitution of the State of Michigan. Repeated court decisions have established that public universities created by the constitution and statutes of Michigan are governmental entities with authority, within the scope of their functions, "coordinate with and equal to" that of the state legislature. Regents v Auditor General, 167 Mich 444 (1911). See also, Sterling v Regents of University of Michigan, 110 Mich 369 (1896); Attorney General ex rel Cook v Burhans, 304 Mich 108 (1942); Branum v Board of Regents of University of Michigan, 5 Mich App 134 (1966); Federated Papers v Michigan State University Board of Trustees, 460 Mich 75 (1999).

Central Michigan University is not subject to federal income tax. Governmental instrumentalities and political subdivisions of states are not subject to federal income tax because they are described in section 115 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Central Michigan University may receive donations that are tax deductible. Governmental instrumentalities and political subdivisions of states may receive donations that are tax deductible to the donors. Internal Revenue Code, Section 170(c)(1) and Section 170(b)(1)(A)(ii) and (v).

What is a notary public and how do I become a notary?

A notary public has specific duties and responsibilities. Risk Management has links to State of Michigan sites and information about what a Notary is and what those duties and responsibilities are. Persons applying to be a Notary Public must acquire a Notary Bond. The University's Risk Management Office can assist you with obtaining the bond and the appropriate forms.

Are there requirements for making agreements for student internships and field placements?

The University calls these agreements "Affiliation Agreements." Academic Affairs has a description of these agreements and directions and requirements for developing them.

What are the permitted uses of social security numbers?

Michigan's Social Security Number Privacy Act became effective in March, 2005. It describes permitted and prohibited uses of Social Security numbers. It also requires that the University have a policy in place on the use of those numbers for students, staff and others. This policy is found in the University's Administrative Policies Procedures and Guidelines, policy 3-14, available on this site (see the navigation pane). If you have further questions concerning use of Social Security numbers, please contact the office of General Counsel.

Can the university promise to keep an agreement confidential?

The University is often asked to promise confidentiality of information it obtains or develops in the course of a contract with a third party. Because the University is a public body subject to the Freedom of Information Act, such promises must be made very carefully.

Promises that the University will keep certain information confidential may be made only under limited circumstances. The conditions for promising confidentiality are set out in Michigan law, specifically, the Freedom of Information Act itself and the Confidential Research and Investment Information Act. Contact the Office of General Counsel with specific questions regarding this issue.

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