Shira Helstrom partners with tax-exempt organizations to provide practical, sophisticated, and timely advice to help them make critical business and legal decisions, manage risk, and achieve their mission goals while remaining compliant with applicable federal tax and state nonprofit laws. Shira advises public charities, private foundations, social welfare organizations, and trade associations on federal tax and state charitable and nonprofit regulatory matters. She also works with nonprofit boards to improve governance practices, and she represents tax-exempt organizations during Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits and attorney general investigations.
In addition to helping clients obtain and maintain tax-exempt status, Shira advises tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations on federal tax and state regulation of nonprofit mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations, affiliated entities, joint ventures, impact investments, and revenue generating activities. She also helps clients structure complex grants and charitable solicitation programs (including cause-related marketing, corporate sponsorships and virtual fundraising), and she works with clients to navigate the state nonprofit and charitable solicitation laws that apply to them. Shira regularly advises clients on the unrelated business income tax, private benefit and inurement, excess benefit transactions and self-dealing, excess business holdings, jeopardizing investments and program-related investments, lobbying and political campaign activity, executive compensation matters, and best practices for nonprofit boards.
Shira works with all types of tax-exempt organizations, including private operating and non-operating foundations, corporate foundations, family foundations, medical and scientific research organizations, healthcare organizations, museums and cultural organizations, colleges and universities, supporting organizations, sponsoring organizations for donor advised funds, standards setting and certification organizations, and trade associations for a variety of industries.
Shira began her legal career advising for-profit clients on tax aspects of complex corporate transactions and representing for-profit clients during IRS audits and litigation before shifting her focus to counseling and representing tax-exempt organizations. In addition to representing tax-exempt organizations, she advises for-profit companies seeking to enter into transactions with, or form affiliated, tax-exempt organizations, and she advises tax-exempt organizations on transactions with their for-profit affiliates.
Prior to earning her LL.M. in taxation from New York University School of Law, Shira served as a law clerk to Judge J. Curtis Joyner at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Shira is a member of the Advisory Board of the Children’s Law Center in Washington, DC.
New York University School of Law, 2010, LL.M., Taxation
Temple University, Beasley School of Law, 2008, J.D., summa cum laude
Muhlenberg College, 2000, B.A., cum laude
District of Columbia
US Tax Court
Clerkship to Judge J. Curtis Joyner of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Awards and Affiliations
Rising Star, Tax: Not-for-profit (nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations), The Legal 500 US (2020–2022)
Member, Practice Group of the Year, Tax, Law360 (2017)
Member, Exempt Organizations Committee, Section of Taxation, American Bar Association
Member, Nonprofit Organizations Committee, Business Law Section, American Bar Association