Starting a Nonprofit: What is “Religious” under 501(c)(3)?

A “religious” purpose is one of the seven exempt purposes specified in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”). However, unlike with the terms “charitable,” “educational,” and “scientific,” the term “religious” is not defined in the Treasury Regulations, in large part due to constitutional issues. IRS guidance explains “[u]nder the First Amendment, the […]

Starting a Nonprofit: What is “Charitable” under 501(c)(3)?

A “charitable” purpose is one of the seven exempt purposes specified in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”). According to the Treasury Regulations, the term charitable is to be interpreted in its generally accepted legal sense and includes, but is not limited to: Relief of the poor, distressed or underprivileged; Advancement of […]

Starting a Nonprofit: What is “educational” under 501(c)(3)?

A 501(c)(3) organization may be organized and operated exclusively in furtherance of an educational purpose, but it is unclear to many startups what qualifies as educational. The first place to look is Treasury Regulation Section 1.501(c)(3)-1(d)(3), which provides that educational relates to: (a) The instruction or training of the individual for the purpose of improving or […]

IRS: When Charities Lose, Everybody Loses

Tax-exempt organizations that fail to satisfy annual filing requirements for three consecutive years automatically lose their tax-exempt status. The IRS is providing one-time relief that will allow small exempt organizations to come back into compliance and retain their tax-exempt status even though they failed to file for three consecutive years. If an organization loses its […]

UBIT: Scientific Purposes and Scientific Research

In the context of scientific organizations, the IRS states that unrelated business income tax (UBIT) issues generally occur in two situations: (1) a scientific research organization (SRO) engaging in various projects or (2) a tax-exempt non-SRO engaging in research. “Scientific purpose” and “scientific research” are commonly seen phrases in the governing documents for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt […]

Citizens United Ruling

On January 21, 2010, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations (including nonprofit corporations and unions) may make direct expenditures on political advertising in support of or in opposition to a candidate for public office.  While nonprofit leaders and commentators are still analyzing what this means for […]