Alumni Profile: Bruce Bokor
Non-profit organizations can get lost in a sea of legal issues. Tax attorney and double Gator Bruce H. Bokor (JD 72) helps them stay on course.
Bokor, a partner in the Pinellas County-based firm Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns, LLP, provides a variety of services to non-profits, including assisting new organizations to apply to the Internal Revenue Service and attain tax-exempt status.
The most important legal issue faced by non-profits is the structuring of gifts, Bokor said.
“Sometimes we’ve been called in where a person is making a gift and they have strings attached and so you’ve got to make sure that those strings aren’t going to cause the charity any problems.”
Non-profits must also be mindful to continue operating on a charitable basis and not get involved in what could be considered business activities, he said.
“If they have business activities, that can either cause them to pay some tax or lose their tax exempt-status.”
Faced with the country’s economic crisis, most non-profit organizations have been forced to carefully watch costs and scale back their activities. Without such organizations, there would be fewer hospitals, no museums and no performing arts locations, Bokor said.
“If you took out all the not-for-profit organizations that we have around us, society would be a heck of a lot different than it is today,” Bokor said.
Bokor became interested in tax law after getting to know his father’s attorney, Norman Lipoff (LLB 61).
“Back when I was an undergraduate, I met with him (Lipoff) a couple of times and he said, ‘It’s a great profession, you ought to do it.’”
Bokor took Lipoff’s advice and excelled at UF Law, serving as editor of the law review and eventually graduating with honors. After graduating from law school, Bokor received a master’s in tax law from The New York University School of Law.
Bokor continues to support the law school by serving as chair of UF Law Center Association, Inc.
“I think UF law school was a major contributor to my success as a lawyer,” he said. “And it’s a chance to give back.”
Outside the legal realm, Bokor has positively impacted his community in a variety of ways, serving as the chair of both the Morton Plant Mease Health Care System and Morton Plant Mease Foundation, a non-profit group that supports four hospitals.
“You can’t do enough for those organizations because they do so much for the community,” Bokor said.
Bokor’s hard work has not gone unnoticed. In January, he was named “Mr. Clearwater” for his contributions to the community. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“I never ever, ever thought I’d even be considered, much less win the award,” he said. “Hopefully, it helps encourage other people to get involved.”