4.   Other Section 501(c) Organizations

Table of Contents

Introduction

This chapter contains specific information for certain organizations described in section 501(c), other than those organizations that are described in section 501(c)(3). Section 501(c)(3) organizations are covered in chapter 3 of this publication.

The Table of Contents at the beginning of this publication, as well as the Organization Reference Chart, may help you locate at a glance the type of organization discussed in this chapter.

501(c)(4) - Civic Leagues and Social Welfare Organizations

If your organization is not organized for profit and will be operated primarily to promote social welfare to benefit the community, you should file Form 1024 to apply for recognition of exemption from federal income tax under section 501(c)(4). The discussion that follows describes the information you must provide when applying. For application procedures, see chapter 1.

To qualify for exemption under section 501(c)(4), the organization's net earnings must be devoted primarily to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes. In addition, no part of the organization's net earnings can inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. If the organization provides an excess benefit to certain persons, an excise tax may be imposed. See Excise tax on excess benefit transactions , under Excess Benefit Transactions in chapter 5 for more information about this tax.

Examples.   Types of organizations that are considered to be social welfare organizations are civic associations and volunteer fire companies.

Nonprofit operation.   You must submit evidence that your organization is organized and will be operated on a nonprofit basis. However, such evidence, including the fact that your organization is organized under a state law relating to nonprofit corporations, will not in itself establish a social welfare purpose.

Social welfare.   To establish that your organization is organized primarily to promote social welfare, you should submit evidence with your application showing that your organization will operate primarily to further (in some way) the common good and general welfare of the people of the community (such as by bringing about civic betterment and social improvements).

  An organization that restricts the use of its facilities to employees of selected corporations and their guests is primarily benefiting a private group rather than the community. It therefore does not qualify as a section 501(c)(4) organization. Similarly, an organization formed to represent member-tenants of an apartment complex does not qualify, since its activities benefit the member-tenants and not all tenants in the community. However, an organization formed to promote the legal rights of all tenants in a particular community may qualify under section 501(c)(4) as a social welfare organization.

Political activity.   Promoting social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, if you submit proof that your organization is organized primarily to promote social welfare, it can obtain exemption even if it participates legally in some political activity on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office. See the discussion in chapter 2 under Political Organization Income Tax Return .

Social or recreational activity.   If social activities will be the primary purpose of your organization, you should not file an application for exemption as a social welfare organization but should file for exemption as a social club described in section 501(c)(7).

Retirement benefit program.   An organization established by its members that has as its primary activity providing supplemental retirement benefits to its members or death benefits to their beneficiaries does not qualify as an exempt social welfare organization. It may qualify under another paragraph of section 501(c) depending on all the facts.

  However, a nonprofit association that is established, maintained, and funded by a local government to provide the only retirement benefits to a class of employees may qualify as a social welfare organization under section 501(c)(4).

Tax treatment of donations.   Donations to volunteer fire companies are deductible on the donor's federal income tax return, but only if made for exclusively public purposes. Contributions to civic leagues or other section 501(c)(4) organizations generally are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. They may be deductible as trade or business expenses, if ordinary and necessary in the conduct of the taxpayer's business. However, see Deduction not allowed for dues used for political or legislative activities , under 501(c)(6) - Business Leagues, etc. for more information.

For more information on social welfare organizations, see Life Cycle of a Social Welfare Organization at IRS.gov.

Specific Organizations

The following information should be contained in the application form and accompanying statements of certain types of civic leagues or social welfare organizations.

Volunteer fire companies.   If your organization wishes to obtain exemption as a volunteer fire company or similar organization, you should submit evidence that its members are actively engaged in fire fighting and similar disaster assistance, whether it actually owns the fire fighting equipment, and whether it provides any assistance for its members, such as death and medical benefits in case of injury to them.

  If your organization does not have an independent social purpose, such as providing recreational facilities for members, it may be exempt under section 501(c)(3). In this event, your organization should file Form 1023.

Homeowners' associations.   A membership organization formed by a real estate developer to own and maintain common green areas, streets, and sidewalks and to enforce covenants to preserve the appearance of the development should show that it is operated for the benefit of all the residents of the community. The term community generally refers to a geographical unit recognizable as a governmental subdivision, unit, or district thereof. Whether a particular association meets the requirement of benefiting a community depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Even if an area represented by an association is not a community, the association can still qualify for exemption if its activities benefit a community.

  The association should submit evidence that areas such as roadways and park land that it owns and maintains are open to the general public and not just its own members. It also must show that it does not engage in exterior maintenance of private homes.

  A homeowners' association that is not exempt under section 501(c)(4) and that is a condominium management association, a residential real estate management association, or a timeshare association generally can elect under the provisions of section 528 to receive certain tax benefits that, in effect, permit it to exclude its exempt function income from its gross income.

Other organizations.   Other nonprofit organizations that qualify as social welfare organizations include:
  • An organization operating an airport that is on land owned by a local government, which supervises the airport's operation, and that serves the general public in an area with no other airport,

  • A community association that works to improve public services, housing, and residential parking; publishes a free community newspaper; sponsors a community sports league, holiday programs, and meetings; and contracts with a private security service to patrol the community,

  • A community association devoted to preserving the community's traditions, architecture, and appearance by representing it before the local legislature and administrative agencies in zoning, traffic, and parking matters,

  • An organization that tries to encourage industrial development and relieve unemployment in an area by making loans to businesses so they will relocate to the area, and

  • An organization that holds an annual festival of regional customs and traditions.

501(c)(5) - Labor, Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations

If you are a member of an organization that wants to obtain recognition of exemption from federal income tax as a labor, agricultural, or horticultural organization, you should submit an application on Form 1024. You must indicate in your application for exemption and accompanying statements that no part of the organization's net earnings will inure to the benefit of any member. In addition, you should follow the procedure for obtaining recognition of exempt status described in chapter 1. Submit any additional information that may be required, as described in this section.

Tax treatment of donations.   Contributions to labor, agricultural, and horticultural organizations are not deductible as charitable contributions on the donor's federal income tax return. However, such payments may be deductible as business expenses if they are ordinary and necessary in the conduct of the taxpayer's trade or business. For more information about certain limits affecting the deductibility of these business expenses, see Deduction not allowed for dues used for political or legislative activities , under 501(c)(6) - Business Leagues, etc.

Labor Organizations

A labor organization is an association of workers who have combined to protect and promote the interests of the members by bargaining collectively with their employers to secure better working conditions.

To show that your organization has the purpose of a labor organization, you should include in the articles of organization or accompanying statements (submitted with your exemption application) information establishing that the organization is organized to better the conditions of workers, improve the grade of their products, and develop a higher degree of efficiency in their respective occupations. In addition, no net earnings of the organization can inure to the benefit of any member.

Composition of membership.   While a labor organization generally is composed of employees or representatives of the employees (in the form of collective bargaining agents) and similar employee groups, evidence that an organization's membership consists mainly of workers does not in itself indicate an exempt purpose. You must show in your application that your organization has the purposes described in the preceding paragraph. These purposes can be accomplished by a single labor organization acting alone or by several organizations acting together through a separate organization.

Benefits to members.   The payment by a labor organization of death, sick, accident, and similar benefits to its individual members with funds contributed by its members, if made under a plan to better the conditions of the members, does not preclude exemption as a labor organization. However, an organization does not qualify for exemption as a labor organization if it has no authority to represent members in job-related matters, even if it provides weekly income to its members in the event of a lawful strike by the members' union, in return for an annual payment by the member.

  For more information on labor organizations, see Life Cycle of a Labor Organization at IRS.gov.

Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations

Agricultural and horticultural organizations are connected with raising livestock, forestry, cultivating land, raising and harvesting crops or aquatic resources, cultivating useful or ornamental plants, and similar pursuits.

For the purpose of these provisions, aquatic resources include only animal or vegetable life, but not mineral resources. The term harvesting, in this case, includes fishing and related pursuits.

Agricultural organizations can be quasi-public in character and are often designed to encourage the development of better agricultural and horticultural products through a system of awards, using income from entry fees, gate receipts, and donations to meet the necessary expenses of upkeep and operation. When the activities are directed toward the improvement of marketing or other business conditions in one or more lines of business, rather than the improvement of production techniques or the betterment of the conditions of persons engaged in agriculture, the organization must qualify for exemption as a business league, board of trade, or other organization, as discussed next in the section on 501(c)(6) organizations.

The primary purpose of exempt agricultural and horticultural organizations must be to better the conditions of those engaged in agriculture or horticulture, develop more efficiency in agriculture or horticulture, or improve the products.

The following list contains some examples of activities that show an agricultural or horticultural purpose.

  1. Promoting various cooperative agricultural, horticultural, and civic activities among rural residents by a state, farm, or home bureau.

  2. Exhibiting livestock, farm products, and other characteristic features of agriculture and horticulture.

  3. Testing soil for members and nonmembers of the farm bureau on a cost basis, the results of the tests and other recommendations being furnished to the community members to educate them in soil treatment.

  4. Guarding the purity of a specific breed of livestock.

  5. Encouraging improvements in the production of fish on privately owned fish farms.

  6. Negotiating with processors for the price to be paid to members for their crops.

For more information on agricultural or horticultural organizations, see Life Cycle of an Agricultural or Horticultural Organization at IRS.gov.

501(c)(6) - Business Leagues, etc.

If your association wants to apply for recognition of exemption from federal income tax as a nonprofit business league, chamber of commerce, real estate board, or board of trade, it should file Form 1024. For a discussion of the procedure to follow, see chapter 1.

Your organization must indicate in its application form and attached statements that no part of its net earnings will inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual and that it is not organized for profit or organized to engage in an activity ordinarily carried on for profit (even if the business is operated on a cooperative basis or produces only sufficient income to be self-sustaining).

In addition, your organization must be primarily engaged in activities or functions that are the basis for its exemption. It must be primarily supported by membership dues and other income from activities substantially related to its exempt purpose.

A business league, in general, is an association of persons having some common business interest, the purpose of which is to promote that common interest and not to engage in a regular business of a kind ordinarily carried on for profit. Trade associations and professional associations are considered business leagues.

Chamber of commerce.   A chamber of commerce usually is composed of the merchants and traders of a city.

Board of trade.   A board of trade often consists of persons engaged in similar lines of business. For example, a nonprofit organization formed to regulate the sale of a specified agricultural commodity to assure equal treatment of producers, warehouse workers, and buyers is a board of trade.

  Chambers of commerce and boards of trade usually promote the common economic interests of all the commercial enterprises in a given trade community.

Real estate board.   A real estate board consists of members interested in improving the business conditions in the real estate field. It is not organized for profit and no part of the net earnings inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.

Professional football leagues.   The Internal Revenue Code specifically defines professional football leagues as exempt organizations under section 501(c)(6). They are exempt whether or not they administer a pension fund for football players.

General purpose.   You must indicate in the material submitted with your application that your organization will be devoted to the improvement of business conditions of one or more lines of business as distinguished from the performance of particular services for individual persons. It must be shown that the conditions of a particular trade or the interests of the community will be advanced. Merely indicating the name of the organization or the object of the local statute under which it is created is not enough to demonstrate the required general purpose.

Line of business.   This term generally refers either to an entire industry or to all components of an industry within a geographic area. It does not include a group composed of businesses that market a particular brand within an industry.

Common business interest.   A common business interest of all members of the organization must be established by the application documents.

Examples.   Activities that would tend to illustrate a common business interest are:
  1. Promotion of higher business standards and better business methods and encouragement of uniformity and cooperation by a retail merchants association,

  2. Education of the public in the use of credit,

  3. Establishment of uniform casualty rates and compilation of statistical information by an insurance rating bureau operated by casualty insurance companies,

  4. Establishment and maintenance of the integrity of a local commercial market,

  5. Operation of a trade publication primarily intended to benefit an entire industry, and

  6. Encouragement of the use of goods and services of an entire industry (such as a lawyer referral service whose main purpose is to introduce individuals to the use of the legal profession in the hope that they will enter into lawyer-client relationships on a paying basis as a result).

Improvement of business conditions.   Generally, this must be shown to be the purpose of the organization. This is not established by evidence of particular services that provide a convenience or economy to individual members in their businesses, such as advertising that carries the name of members, interest-free loans, assigning exclusive franchise areas, operation of a real estate multiple listing system, or operation of a credit reporting agency.

Stock or commodity exchange.   A stock or commodity exchange is not a business league, chamber of commerce, real estate board, or board of trade and is not exempt under section 501(c)(6).

Legislative activity.   An organization that is exempt under section 501(c)(6) can work for the enactment of laws to advance the common business interests of the organization's members.

Deduction not allowed for dues used for political or legislative activities.   A taxpayer cannot deduct the part of dues or other payments to a business league, trade association, labor union, or similar organization that is reported to the taxpayer by the organization as having been used for any of the following activities.
  1. Influencing legislation.

  2. Participating or intervening in a political campaign for, or against, any candidate for public office.

  3. Trying to influence the general public, or part of the general public, with respect to elections, legislative matters, or referendums (also known as grass roots lobbying).

  4. Communicating directly with certain executive branch officials to try to influence their official actions or positions.

See Dues Used for Lobbying or Political Activities under Required Disclosures in chapter 2 for more information.

Exception for local legislation.   Members can deduct dues (or assessments) to an organization that are for expenses of:
  1. Appearing before, submitting statements to, or sending communications to members of a local council or similar governing body with respect to legislation or proposed legislation of direct interest to the member, or

  2. Communicating information between the member and the organization with respect to local legislation or proposed legislation of direct interest to the organization or the member.

Legislation or proposed legislation is of direct interest to a taxpayer if it will, or can reasonably be expected to, affect the taxpayer's trade or business.

De minimis exception.   In-house expenditures of $2,000 or less for the year for activities (1) – (4) listed earlier will not prevent a deduction for dues if the dues meet all other tests to be deductible as a business expense.

Grass roots lobbying.   A tax-exempt trade association, labor union, or similar organization is considered to be engaging in grass roots lobbying if it contacts prospective members or calls upon its own members to contact their employees and customers for the purpose of urging such persons to communicate with their elected state or Congressional representatives to support the promotion, defeat, or repeal of legislation that is of direct interest to the organization. Any dues or assessments directly related to such activities are not deductible by the taxpayer, since the individuals being contacted, who are not members of the organization, are a segment of the general public.

Tax treatment of donations.   Contributions to organizations described in this section are not deductible as charitable contributions on the donor's federal income tax return. They may be deductible as trade or business expenses if ordinary and necessary in the conduct of the taxpayer's business.

  For more information on business leagues, see Life Cycle of a Business League (Trade Association) on IRS.gov.

501(c)(7) - Social and Recreation Clubs

If your club is organized for pleasure, recreation, and other similar nonprofitable purposes and substantially all of its activities are for these purposes, it should file Form 1024 to apply for recognition of exemption from federal income tax.

In applying for recognition of exemption, you should submit the information described in this section. Also see chapter 1 for the procedures to follow.

Typical organizations that should file for recognition of exemption as social clubs include:

  • College alumni associations that are not described in chapter 3 under Alumni association ,

  • College fraternities or sororities operating chapter houses for students,

  • Country clubs,

  • Amateur hunting, fishing, tennis, swimming, and other sport clubs,

  • Dinner clubs that provide a meeting place, library, and dining room for members,

  • Hobby clubs,

  • Garden clubs, and

  • Variety clubs.

Discrimination prohibited.   Your organization will not be recognized as tax exempt if its charter, bylaws, or other governing instrument, or any written policy statement provides for discrimination against any person on the basis of race, color, or religion.

  However, a club that in good faith limits its membership to the members of a particular religion to further the teachings or principles of that religion and not to exclude individuals of a particular race or color will not be considered as discriminating on the basis of religion. Also, the restriction on religious discrimination does not apply to a club that is an auxiliary of a fraternal beneficiary society (discussed later) if that society is described in section 501(c)(8) and exempt from tax under section 501(a) and limits its membership to the members of a particular religion.

Private benefit prohibited.   No part of the organization's net earnings can inure to the benefit of any person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization. For purposes of this requirement, it is not necessary that net earnings be actually distributed. Even undistributed earnings can benefit members. Examples of this include a decrease in membership dues or an increase in the services the club provides to its members without a corresponding increase in dues or other fees paid for club support. However, fixed-fee payments to members who bring new members into the club are not an inurement of the club's net earnings, if the payments are reasonable compensation for performance of a necessary administrative service.

Purposes.   To show that your organization possesses the characteristics of a club within the meaning of the exemption law, you should submit evidence with your application that personal contact, commingling, and fellowship exist among members. You must show that members are bound together by a common objective of pleasure, recreation, and other nonprofitable purposes.

  Fellowship need not be present between each member and every other member of a club if it is a material part in the life of the organization. A statewide or nationwide organization that is made up of individual members, but is divided into local groups, satisfies this requirement if fellowship is a material part of the life of each local group.

  The term other nonprofitable purposes means other purposes similar to pleasure and recreation. For example, a club that, in addition to its social activities, has a plan for the payment of sick and death benefits is not operating exclusively for pleasure, recreation, and other nonprofitable purposes.

Limited membership.   The membership in a social club must be limited. To show that your organization has a purpose that would characterize it as a club, you should submit evidence with your application that there are limits on admission to membership consistent with the character of the club.

  A social club that issues corporate membership is dealing with the general public in the form of the corporation's employees. Corporate members of a club are not the kind of members contemplated by the law. Gross receipts from these members would be a factor in determining whether the club qualifies as a social club. See Gross receipts from nonmembership sources , later. Bona fide individual memberships paid for by a corporation would not have an effect on the gross receipts source.

  The fact that a social club may have an associate (nonvoting) class of membership will not be, in and of itself, a cause for nonrecognition of exemption. However, if one membership class pays substantially lower dues and fees than another membership class, although both classes enjoy the same rights and privileges in using the club facilities, there may be an inurement of income to the benefited class, resulting in a denial of the club's exemption.

Support.   In general, your club should be supported solely by membership fees, dues, and assessments. However, if otherwise entitled to exemption, your club will not be disqualified because it raises revenue from members through the use of club facilities or in connection with club activities.

Business activities.   If your club will engage in business, such as selling real estate, timber, or other products or services, it generally will be denied exemption. However, evidence submitted with your application form that your organization will provide meals, refreshments, or services related to its exempt purposes only to its own members or their dependents or guests will not cause denial of exemption.

Facilities open to public.   Evidence that your club's facilities will be open to the general public (persons other than members or their dependents or guests) may cause denial of exemption. This does not mean, however, that any dealing with outsiders will automatically deprive a club of exemption.

Gross receipts from nonmembership sources.   A section 501(c)(7) organization can receive up to 35% of its gross receipts, including investment income, from sources outside of its membership without losing its tax-exempt status. Income from nontraditional business activity with members is not exempt function income, and thus is included as income from sources outside of the membership. Of the 35% gross receipts listed above, up to 15% of the gross receipts can be derived from the use of the club's facilities or services by the general public. If an organization has outside income that is more than these limits, all the facts and circumstances will be taken into account in determining whether the organization qualifies for exempt status.

Gross receipts.   Gross receipts, for this purpose, are receipts from the normal and usual (traditionally conducted) activities of the club. These receipts include charges, admissions, membership fees, dues, assessments, investment income, and normal recurring capital gains on investments. Receipts do not include initiation fees and capital contributions. Unusual amounts of income, such as from the sale of a clubhouse or similar facility, are not included in gross receipts or in figuring the percentage limits.

Nontraditional activities.   Activities conducted by a social club need to further its exempt purposes. Traditional business activities are those that further a social club's exempt purposes. Nontraditional business activities do not further the exempt purposes of a social club even if conducted solely on a membership basis. Nontraditional business activities are prohibited (subject to an insubstantial, trivial, and nonrecurrent test) for businesses conducted with both members and nonmembers. Examples of nontraditional business activities include sale of package liquor, take-out food, and long-term room rental.

Fraternity foundations.   If your organization is a foundation formed for the exclusive purpose of acquiring and leasing a chapter house to a local fraternity chapter or sorority chapter maintained at an educational institution and does not engage in any social or recreational activities, it may be a title holding corporation (discussed later under section 501(c)(2) organizations and under section 501(c)(25) organizations) rather than a social club.

Tax treatment of donations.   Donations to exempt social and recreation clubs are not deductible as charitable contributions on the donor's federal income tax return.

501(c)(8) and 501(c)(10) - Fraternal Beneficiary Societies and Domestic Fraternal Societies

This section describes the information to be provided upon application for recognition of exemption by two types of fraternal societies: beneficiary and domestic. The major distinction is that fraternal beneficiary societies provide for the payment of life, sick, accident, or other benefits to their members or their dependents, while domestic fraternal societies do not provide these benefits but rather devote their earnings to fraternal, religious, charitable, etc., purposes. The procedures to follow in applying for recognition of exemption are described in chapter 1.

If your organization is controlled by a central organization, you should check with your controlling organization to determine whether your unit has been included in a group exemption letter or can be added. If so, your organization need not apply for individual recognition of exemption. For more information, see Group Exemption Letter in chapter 1 of this publication.

Tax treatment of donations.   Donations by an individual to a domestic fraternal beneficiary society or a domestic fraternal society operating under the lodge system are deductible as charitable contributions only if used exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.

Fraternal Beneficiary Societies (501(c)(8))

A fraternal beneficiary society, order, or association must file an application for recognition of exemption from federal income tax on Form 1024. The application and accompanying statements should establish that the organization:

  1. Is a fraternal organization,

  2. Operates under the lodge system or for the exclusive benefit of the members of a fraternal organization itself operating under the lodge system, and

  3. Provides for the payment of life, sick, accident, or other benefits to the members of the society, order, or association or their dependents.

Lodge system.   Operating under the lodge system means carrying on activities under a form of organization that comprises local branches, chartered by a parent organization and largely self-governing, called lodges, chapters, or the like.

Payment of benefits.   It is not essential that every member be covered by the society's program of sick, accident, or death benefits. An organization can qualify for exemption if most of its members are eligible for benefits, and the benefits are paid from contributions or dues paid by those members.

  The benefits must be limited to members and their dependents. If members will have the ability to confer benefits to other than themselves and their dependents, exemption will not be recognized.

Whole-life insurance.   Whole-life insurance constitutes a life benefit under section 501(c)(8) even though the policy may contain investment features such as a cash surrender value or a policy loan.

Reinsurance pool.   Payments by a fraternal beneficiary society into a state-sponsored reinsurance pool that protects participating insurers against excessive losses on major medical health and accident insurance will not preclude exemption as a fraternal beneficiary society.

Domestic Fraternal Societies (501(c)(10))

A domestic fraternal society, order, or association must file an application for recognition of exemption from federal income tax on Form 1024. The application and accompanying statements should establish that the organization:

  1. Is a domestic fraternal organization organized in the U.S.,

  2. Operates under the lodge system,

  3. Devotes its net earnings exclusively to religious, charitable, scientific, literary, educational, and fraternal purposes, and

  4. Does not provide for the payment of life, sick, accident, or other benefits to its members.

The organization can arrange with insurance companies to provide optional insurance to its members without jeopardizing its exempt status.

501(c)(4), 501(c)(9), and 501(c)(17) - Employees' Associations

This section describes the information to be provided upon application for recognition of exemption by the following types of employees' associations:

  1. A voluntary employees' beneficiary association (including federal employees' associations) organized to pay life, sick, accident, and similar benefits to members or their dependents, or designated beneficiaries, if no part of the net earnings of the association inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, and

  2. A supplemental unemployment benefit trust whose primary purpose is providing for payment of supplemental unemployment benefits.

Both the application form to file and the information to provide are discussed later under the section that describes your employee association. Chapter 1 describes the procedures to follow in applying for exemption.

Tax treatment of donations.   Donations to these organizations are not deductible as charitable contributions on the donor's federal income tax return.

Local Employees' Associations (501(c)(4))

A local association of employees whose membership is limited to employees of a designated person or persons in a particular municipality, and whose income will be devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes. A local employees' association must apply for recognition of exemption by filing Form 1024. The organization must submit evidence that:

  1. It is of a purely local character,

  2. Its membership is limited to employees of a designated person or persons in a particular locality, and

  3. Its net earnings will be devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.

A local association of employees that has established a system of paying retirement or death benefits, or both, to its members will not qualify for exemption since the payment of these benefits is not considered as being for charitable, educational, or recreational purposes. Similarly, a local association of employees that is operated primarily as a cooperative buying service for its members in order to obtain discount prices on merchandise, services, and activities does not qualify for exemption.

Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Associations (501(c)(9))

An application for recognition of exemption as a voluntary employees' beneficiary association must be filed on Form 1024. The material submitted with the application must show that your organization:

  1. Is a voluntary association of employees,

  2. Will provide for payment of life, sick, accident, or other benefits to members or their dependents or designated beneficiaries and substantially all of its operations are for this purpose, and

  3. Will not allow any of its net earnings to inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder except in the form of scheduled benefit payments.

To be complete, an application must include a copy of the document (such as the trust instrument) by which the organization was created; a full description of the benefits available to participants and the terms and conditions of eligibility for benefits (usually contained in a plan document); and, if providing benefits pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement, a copy of that agreement.

Note.

Under section 4976, the reversion of funds from a section 501(c)(9) organization to the employer who created the beneficiary association may subject the employer to a 100% penalty excise tax on the amount of the reversion.

Notice requirement.   An organization will not be considered tax exempt under this section unless the organization gives notice to the IRS that it is applying for recognition of exempt status. The organization gives notice by filing Form 1024. If the notice is not given by 15 months after the end of the month in which the organization was created, the organization will not be exempt for any period before notice is given. An extension of time for filing the notice can be granted under the same procedures as those described for section 501(c)(3) organizations in chapter 3 under Application for Recognition of Exemption .

Membership.   Membership of a section 501(c)(9) organization must consist of individuals who are employees and have an employment-related common bond. This common bond can be a common employer (or affiliated employers), coverage under one or more collective bargaining agreements, membership in a labor union, or membership in one or more locals of a national or international labor union.

  The membership of an association can include some individuals who are not employees, provided they have an employment-related bond with the employee-members. For example, the owner of a business whose employees are members of the association can be a member. An association will be considered composed of employees if 90% of its total membership on one day of each quarter of its tax year consists of employees.

Employees.   Employees include individuals who became entitled to membership because they are or were employees. For example, an individual will qualify as an employee even though the individual is on a leave of absence or has been terminated due to retirement, disability, or layoff.

  Generally, membership is voluntary if an affirmative act is required on the part of an employee to become a member. Conversely, membership is involuntary if the designation as a member is due to employee status. However, an association will be considered voluntary if employees are required to be members of the organization as a condition of their employment and they do not incur a detriment (such as a payroll deduction) as a result of their membership. An employer has not imposed involuntary membership on the employee if membership is required as the result of a collective bargaining agreement or as an incident of membership in a labor organization.

Payment of benefits.   The information submitted with your application must show that your organization will pay life, sick, accident, supplemental unemployment, or other similar benefits. The benefits can be provided directly by your association or indirectly by your association through the payments of premiums to an insurance company (or fees to a medical clinic). Benefits can be in the form of medical, clinical, or hospital services, transportation furnished for medical care, or money payments.

Nondiscrimination requirements.   An organization that is part of a plan will not be exempt unless the plan meets certain nondiscrimination requirements. However, if the organization is part of a plan that is a collective bargaining agreement that was the subject of good faith bargaining between employee organizations and employers, the plan need not meet these requirements for the organization to qualify as tax exempt.

  A plan meets the nondiscrimination requirements only if both of the following statements are true.
  1. Each class of benefits under the plan is provided under a classification of employees that is set forth in the plan and does not discriminate in favor of employees who are highly compensated individuals.

  2. The benefits provided under each class of benefits do not discriminate in favor of highly compensated individuals.

A life insurance, disability, severance pay, or supplemental unemployment compensation benefit does not discriminate in favor of highly compensated individuals merely because the benefits available bear a uniform relationship to the total compensation, or the basic or regular rate of compensation, of employees covered by the plan.

  For purposes of determining whether a plan meets the nondiscrimination requirements, the employer can elect to exclude all disability or severance payments payable to individuals who are in pay status as of January 1, 1985. This will not apply to any increase in such payment by any plan amendment adopted after June 22, 1984.

  If a plan provides a benefit for which there is a nondiscrimination provision provided under Chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code as a condition of that benefit being excluded from gross income, these nondiscrimination requirements do not apply. The benefit will be considered nondiscriminatory only if it meets the nondiscrimination provision of the applicable Code section. For example, benefits provided under a medical reimbursement plan would meet the nondiscrimination requirements for an association, if the benefits meet the nondiscrimination requirements of section 105(h)(3) and 105(h)(4).

Excluded employees.   Certain employees who are not covered by a plan can be excluded from consideration in applying these requirements. These include employees:
  1. Who have not completed 3 years of service,

  2. Who have not attained age 21,

  3. Who are seasonal or less than half-time employees,

  4. Who are not in the plan and who are included in a unit of employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement if the class of benefits involved was the subject of good faith bargaining, or

  5. Who are nonresident aliens and who receive no earned income from the employer that has United States source income.

Highly compensated individual.   A highly compensated individual is one who:
  1. Owned 5 percent or more of the employer at any time during the current year or the preceding year,

  2. Received more than $115,000 in compensation from the employer for the preceding year (the amount is annualized for inflation. Go to IRS.gov, and search “Pension Plan Limitation” for the year), and

  3. Was among the top 20% of employees by compensation for the preceding year.

However, the employer can choose not to have (3) apply.

Aggregation rules.   The employer can choose to treat two or more plans as one plan for purposes of meeting the nondiscrimination requirements. Employees of controlled groups of corporations, trades, or businesses under common control, or members of an affiliated service group, are treated as employees of a single employer. Leased employees are treated as employees of the recipient.

One employee.   A trust created to provide benefits to one employee will not qualify as a voluntary employees' beneficiary association under section 501(c)(9).

Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Trusts (501(c)(17))

A trust or trusts forming part of a written plan (established and maintained by an employer, his or her employees, or both) providing solely for the payment of supplemental unemployment compensation benefits must file the application for recognition of exemption on Form 1024. The trust must be a valid, existing trust under local law and must be evidenced by an executed document. A conformed copy of the plan of which the trust is a part should be attached to the application.

To be complete, an application must include a copy of the document (such as the trust instrument) by which the organization was created; a full description of the benefits available to participants and the terms and conditions of eligibility for benefits (usually contained in a plan document); and, if providing benefits pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement, a copy of that agreement.

Note.

Under section 4976, the reversion of funds from a section 501(c)(17) organization to the employer who created the supplemental unemployment benefit trust may subject the employer to a 100% penalty excise tax on the amount of the reversion.

Notice requirement.   An organization will not be considered tax exempt under this section unless the organization gives notice to the IRS that it is applying for recognition of exempt status. The organization gives notice by filing Form 1024. If the notice is not given by 15 months after the end of the month in which the organization was created, the organization will not be exempt for any period before such notice is given. An extension of time for filing the notice is granted under the same procedures as those described for section 501(c)(3) organizations in chapter 3 under Application for Recognition of Exemption .

Types of payments.   You must show that the supplemental unemployment compensation benefits will be benefits paid to an employee because of the employee's involuntary separation from employment (whether or not the separation is temporary) resulting directly from a reduction-in-force, discontinuance of a plant or operation, or other similar conditions. In addition, sickness and accident benefits (but not vacation, retirement, or death benefits) may be included in the plan if these are subordinate to the unemployment compensation benefits.

Diversion of funds.   It must be impossible under the plan (at any time before the satisfaction of all liabilities with respect to employees under the plan) to use or to divert any of the corpus or income of the trust to any purpose other than the payment of supplemental unemployment compensation benefits (or sickness or accident benefits to the extent just explained).

Discrimination in benefits.   Neither the terms of the plan nor the actual payment of benefits can be discriminatory in favor of the company's officers, stockholders, supervisors, or highly paid employees. However, a plan is not discriminatory merely because benefits bear a uniform relationship to compensation or the rate of compensation.

Prohibited transactions and exemption.   If your organization is a supplemental unemployment benefit trust and has received a denial of exemption because it engaged in a prohibited transaction, as defined by section 503(b), it can file a claim for exemption in any tax year following the tax year in which the notice of denial was issued. It must file the claim on Form 1024. The organization must include a written declaration that it will not knowingly again engage in a prohibited transaction. An authorized principal officer of your organization must make this declaration under the penalties of perjury.

  If your organization has satisfied all requirements as a supplemental unemployment benefit trust described in section 501(c)(17), it will be notified in writing that it has been recognized as exempt. However, the organization will be exempt only for those tax years after the tax year in which the claim for exemption (Form 1024) is filed. Tax year in this case means the established annual accounting period of the organization or, if the organization has not established an annual accounting period, the calendar year. For more information about the requirements for reestablishing an exemption previously denied, contact the IRS.

501(c)(12) - Local Benevolent Life Insurance Associations, Mutual Irrigation and Telephone Companies, and Like Organizations

Each of the following organizations apply for recognition of exemption from federal income tax by filing Form 1024.

  1. Benevolent life insurance associations of a purely local character and like organizations.

  2. Mutual ditch or irrigation companies and like organizations.

  3. Mutual or cooperative telephone companies and like organizations.

A like organization is an organization that performs a service comparable to that performed by any one of the above organizations.

The information to be provided upon application by each of these organizations is described in this section. For information as to the procedures to follow in applying for exemption, see chapter 1.

General requirements.   These organizations must use their income solely to cover losses and expenses, with any excess being returned to members or retained to cover future losses and expenses. They must collect at least 85% of their income from members for the sole purpose of meeting losses and expenses.

Mutual character.   These organizations, other than benevolent life insurance associations, must be organized and operated on a mutual or cooperative basis. They are associations of persons or organizations, or both, banded together to provide themselves a mutually desirable service approximately at cost and on a mutual basis. To maintain the mutual characteristic of democratic ownership and control, they must be so organized and operated that their members have the right to choose the management, to receive services at cost, to receive a return of any excess of payments over losses and expenses, and to share in any assets upon dissolution.

  The rights and interests of members in the annual savings of the organization must be determined in proportion to their business with the organization. Upon dissolution, gains from the sale of appreciated assets must be distributed to all persons who were members during the period the assets were owned by the organization in proportion to the amount of business done during that period. The bylaws must not provide for forfeiture of a member's rights and interest upon withdrawal or termination.

Membership.   Membership of a mutual organization consists of those who join the organization to obtain its services, and have a voice in its management. In a stock company, the stockholders are members. However, a mutual life insurance organization cannot have policyholders other than its members.

Losses and expenses.   In furnishing services substantially at cost, an organization must use its income solely for paying losses and expenses. Any excess income not retained in reasonable reserves for future losses and expenses belongs to members in proportion to their patronage or business done with the organization. If such patronage refunds are retained in reasonable amounts for purposes of expanding and improving facilities, retiring capital indebtedness, acquiring other assets, and unexpected expenses, the organization must maintain records sufficient to reflect the equity of each member in the assets acquired with the funds.

Distributions of proceeds.   The cooperative may distribute the unexpended balance of collections or assessments remaining on hand at the end of the year to members or patrons prorated on the basis of their patronage or business done with the cooperative. Such distribution represents a refund in the costs of services rendered to the member.

The 85% Requirement

All of the organizations listed above must submit evidence with their application that they receive 85% or more of their gross income from their members for the sole purpose of meeting losses and expenses. Nevertheless, certain items of income are excluded from the computation of the 85% requirement if the organization is a mutual or cooperative telephone or electric company.

Mutual or cooperative telephone company.   A mutual or cooperative telephone company will exclude from the computation of the 85% requirement any income received or accrued from:
  1. A nonmember telephone company for the performance of communication services involving the completion of long distance calls to, from, or between members of the mutual or cooperative telephone company,

  2. Qualified pole rentals,

  3. The sale of display listings in a directory furnished to its members, or

  4. The prepayment of a loan created in 1987, 1988, or 1989, under section 306A, 306B, or 311 of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936.

Mutual or cooperative electric company.   A mutual or cooperative electric company will exclude from the computation of the 85% requirement any income received or accrued from:
  1. Qualified pole rentals,

  2. Any provision or sale of electric energy transmission services or ancillary service if the services are provided on a nondiscriminatory open access basis under an open access transmission tariff approved or accepted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) or under an independent transmission provider agreement approved or accepted by FERC (other than income received or accrued directly or indirectly from a member),

  3. The provision or sale of electric energy distribution services or ancillary services if the services are provided on a nondiscriminatory open-access basis to distribute electric energy not owned by the mutual or electric cooperative company:

    1. To end-users who are served by distribution facilities not owned by the company or any of its members (other than income received or accrued directly or indirectly from a member), or

    2. Generated by a generation facility not owned or leased by the company or any of its members and which is directly connected to distribution facilities owned by the company or any of its members (other than income received or accrued directly or indirectly from a member),

  4. Any nuclear decommissioning transaction, or

  5. Any asset exchange or conversion transaction.

  An electric cooperative's sale of excess fuel at cost in the year of purchase is not income for purposes of determining compliance with the 85% requirement.

Qualified pole rental.   The term qualified pole rental means any rental of a pole (or other structure used to support wires) if the pole (or other structure) is used:
  1. By the telephone or electric company to support one or more wires that are used by the company in providing telephone or electric services to its members, and

  2. Pursuant to the rental to support one or more wires (in addition to wires described in (1)) for use in connection with the transmission by wire of electricity or of telephone or other communications.

  The term rental, for this purpose, includes any sale of the right to use the pole (or other structure).

The 85% requirement is applied on the basis of an annual accounting period. Failure of an organization to meet the requirement in a particular year precludes exemption for that year, but has no effect upon exemption for years in which the 85% requirement is met.

Gain from the sale or conversion of the organization's property is not considered an amount received from members in determining whether the organization's income consists of amounts collected from members.

Because the 85% income test is based on gross income, capital losses cannot be used to reduce capital gains for purposes of this test.

Example.   The books of an organization reflect the following for the calendar year.
Collections from members $2,400
Short-term capital gains 600
Short-term capital losses 400
Other income None
Gross income ($2,400 + $600 =$3000) 100%
Collected from members ($2,400) 80%

  Since amounts collected from members do not constitute at least 85% of gross income, the organization is not entitled to exemption from federal income tax for the year.

  Voluntary contributions in the nature of gifts are not taken into account for purposes of the 85% computation.

  Other tax-exempt income besides gifts is considered as income received from other than members in applying the 85% test.

  If the 85% test is not met, your organization, if classifiable under this section, will not qualify for exemption as any other type of organization described in this publication.

Tax treatment of donations.   Donations to an organization described in this section are not deductible as charitable contributions on the donor's federal income tax return.

Local Life Insurance Associations

A benevolent life insurance association or an organization seeking recognition of exemption on grounds of similarity to a benevolent life insurance association must submit evidence upon applying for recognition of exemption that it will be of a purely local character, that its excess funds will be refunded to members or retained in reasonable reserves to meet future losses and expenses, and that it meets the 85% income requirement. If an organization issues policies for stipulated cash premiums, or if it requires advance deposits to cover the cost of the insurance and maintains investments from which more than 15% of its income is derived, it will not be entitled to exemption.

To establish that your organization is of a purely local character, it should show that its activities will be confined to a particular community, place, or district irrespective of political subdivisions. If the activities of an organization are limited only by the borders of a state, it cannot be purely local in character. A benevolent life insurance association that does not terminate membership when a member moves from the local area in which the association operates will qualify for exemption if it meets the other requirements.

A copy of each type of policy issued by your organization should be included with the application for recognition of exemption.

Organizations similar to local benevolent life insurance companies.   These organizations include those that in addition to paying death benefits also provide for the payment of sick, accident, or health benefits. However, an organization that pays only sick, accident, or health benefits, but not life insurance benefits, is not an organization similar to a benevolent life insurance association and should not apply for recognition of exemption as described in this section.

Burial and funeral benefit insurance organization.   This type of organization can apply for recognition of exemption as an organization similar to a benevolent life insurance company if it establishes that the benefits are paid in cash and if it is not engaged directly in the manufacture of funeral supplies or the performance of funeral services. An organization that provides its benefits in the form of supplies and service is not a life insurance company. Such an organization can seek recognition of exemption from federal income tax, however, as a mutual insurance company other than life.

Mutual or Cooperative Associations

Mutual ditch or irrigation companies, mutual or cooperative telephone companies, and like organizations need not establish that they are of a purely local character. They can serve noncontiguous areas.

Like organization.   A like organization is a cooperative or mutual organization that performs a service similar to mutual ditch, irrigation, telephone, or electric companies. Examples include the following: cooperatives that provide protection of river banks to prevent erosion, water and sewer services, cable television, satellite, television, cellular phone services, two-way radio service, or natural gas services.

501(c)(13) - Cemetery Companies

If your organization wishes to obtain recognition of exemption from federal income tax as a cemetery company or a corporation chartered solely for the purpose of the disposal of human bodies by burial or cremation, it must file an application on Form 1024. For the procedure to follow to file an application, see Application, Approval, and Appeal Procedures in chapter 1.

A nonprofit mutual cemetery company that seeks recognition of exemption should submit evidence with its application that it is owned and operated exclusively for the benefit of its lot owners who hold lots for bona fide burial purposes and not for purposes of resale. A mutual cemetery company that also engages in charitable activities, such as the burial of paupers, will be regarded as operating within this standard. The fact that a mutual cemetery company limits its membership to a particular class of individuals, such as members of a family, will not affect its status as mutual so long as all the other requirements of section 501(c)(13) are met.

If your organization is a nonprofit corporation chartered solely for the purpose of the disposal of human bodies by burial or cremation, you should show that it is not permitted by its charter to engage in any business not necessarily incident to that purpose. Operating a mortuary is not permitted. However, selling monuments, markers, vaults, and flowers solely for use in the cemetery is permitted if the profits from these sales are used to maintain the cemetery as a whole.

How income can be used.   You should show that your organization's earnings are or will be used only in one or more of the following ways.
  1. To pay the ordinary and necessary expenses of operating, maintaining, and improving the cemetery or crematorium.

  2. To buy cemetery property.

  3. To create a fund that will provide a source of income for the perpetual care of the cemetery or a reasonable reserve for any ordinary or necessary purpose.

No part of the net earnings of your organization can inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.

Ordinary and necessary expenses in connection with the operation, management, maintenance, and improvement of the cemetery are permitted, as are reasonable fees for the services of a manager.

Buying cemetery property.   Payments can be made to amortize debt incurred to buy land, but cannot be in the nature of profit distributions. You must show the method used to finance the purchase of the cemetery property and that the purchase price of the land at the time of its sale to the cemetery was not unreasonable.

  Except for holders of preferred stock (discussed later), no person can have any interest in the net earnings of a tax-exempt cemetery company or crematorium. Therefore, if property is transferred to the organization in exchange for an interest in the organization's net earnings, the organization will not be exempt so long as that interest remains outstanding.

  An equity interest in the organization is an interest in the net earnings of the organization. However, an interest in the organization that is not an equity interest may still be an interest in the organization's net earnings. For example, a bond issued by a cemetery company that provides for a fixed rate of interest and also provides for additional interest payments based on the income of the organization is considered an interest in the net earnings of the organization. Similarly, a convertible debt obligation issued after July 7, 1975, is considered an interest in the net earnings of the organization.

Perpetual care organization.   A perpetual care organization, including, for example, a trust organized to receive, maintain, and administer funds that it receives from a nonprofit tax-exempt cemetery under state law and contracts, can apply for recognition of exemption on Form 1024, even though it does not own the land used for burial. However, the income from these funds must be devoted exclusively to the perpetual care and maintenance of the nonprofit cemetery as a whole. Also, no part of the net earnings can inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.

  In addition, a perpetual care organization not operated for profit, but established as a civic enterprise to maintain and administer funds, the income of which is devoted exclusively to the perpetual care and maintenance of an abandoned cemetery as a whole, may qualify for exemption.

Care of individual plots.   When funds are received by a cemetery company for the perpetual care of an individual lot or crypt, a trust is created that is subject to federal income tax. Any trust income that is used or permanently set aside for the care, maintenance, or beautification of a particular family burial lot or mausoleum crypt is not deductible in computing the trust's taxable income.

Common and preferred stock.   A cemetery company that issues common stock can qualify for exemption only if no dividends may be paid. The payment of dividends must be legally prohibited either by the corporation's charter or by applicable state law.

  Generally, a cemetery company or crematorium is not exempt if it issues preferred stock. However, it can still be exempt if the preferred stock was issued before November 28, 1978, or was issued after that date under a written plan adopted before that date. The adoption of the plan must be shown by the acts of the responsible officers and appear on the official records of the organization.

  The preferred stock issued either before November 28, 1978, or under a plan adopted before that date, must meet all the following requirements.
  1. The preferred stock entitles the holders to dividends at a fixed rate that is not more than the greater of the legal rate of interest in the state of incorporation or 8% a year on the value of the consideration for which the stock was issued.

  2. The organization's articles of incorporation require:

    1. That the preferred stock be retired at par as rapidly as funds become available from operations, and

    2. That all funds not required for the payment of dividends on or for the retirement of preferred stock be used by the company for the care and improvement of the cemetery property.

Tax treatment of donations.   Donations to exempt cemetery companies, corporations chartered solely for human burial purposes, and perpetual care funds (operated in connection with such exempt organizations) are deductible as charitable contributions on the donor's federal income tax return. However, a donor cannot deduct a contribution made for the perpetual care of a particular lot or crypt. Payments made to a cemetery company or corporation as part of the purchase price of a burial lot or crypt, whether irrevocably dedicated to the perpetual care of the cemetery as a whole or earmarked for the care of a particular lot, are also not deductible.

501(c)(14) - Credit Unions and Other Mutual Financial Organizations

If your organization wants to obtain recognition of exemption as a credit union without capital stock, organized and operated under state law for mutual purposes and without profit, it must file an application that includes the facts, information, and attachments described in this section. In addition, it should follow the procedures for filing an application described in Application Procedures in chapter 1.

Federal credit unions organized and operated in accordance with the Federal Credit Union Act, as amended, are instrumentalities of the United States and, therefore, are exempt under section 501(c)(1). They are included in a group exemption letter issued to the National Credit Union Administration. They are not discussed in this publication.

State-chartered credit unions and other mutual financial organizations file applications for recognition of exemption from federal income tax under section 501(c)(14). The other mutual financial organizations must be corporations or associations without capital stock organized before September 1, 1957, and operated for mutual purposes and without profit to provide reserve funds for, and insurance of, shares or deposits in:

  1. Domestic building and loan associations,

  2. Cooperative banks (without capital stock) organized and operated for mutual purposes and without profit,

  3. Mutual savings banks (not having capital stock represented by shares), or

  4. Mutual savings banks described in section 591(b).

Similar organizations, formed before September 1, 1957, that provide reserve funds for (but not insurance of shares or deposits in) one of the types of savings institutions described in (1), (2), or (3) above may be exempt from tax if 85% or more of the organization's income is from providing reserve funds and from investments. There is no specific restriction against the issuance of capital stock for these organizations.

Building and loan associations, savings and loan associations, mutual savings banks, and cooperative banks, other than those described in this section, are not exempt from tax. However, certain corporations organized and operated in conjunction with farmers' cooperatives can be exempt under section 521.

Application form.   The IRS does not provide a printed application form for the use of organizations described in this section. Any form of written application is acceptable as long as it shows the information indicated in this section and includes a declaration that it is made under the penalties of perjury. The application must be submitted in duplicate.

State-Chartered Credit Unions

Your organization must show on its application that it is formed under a state credit union law, the state and date of incorporation, and that the state credit union law with respect to loans, investments, and dividends, if any, is being complied with.

A form of statement furnished to applicants by the Credit Union National Association is acceptable in meeting the application requirements for credit unions, and may be used instead of the statement form of application just described. The following is a reproduction of that form.

Claim for Exemption from Federal Income Tax (Date)   The undersigned (Complete name) Credit Union, Inc., (Complete address, including street and number), a credit union operating under the credit union law of the State of, claims exemption from federal income tax and supplies the following information relative to its operation.
  1. Date of incorporation .

  2. It was incorporated under the credit union law of the State of , and is being operated under uniform bylaws adopted by said state.

  3. In making loans, the state credit union law requirements, including their purposes, security, and rate of interest charged thereon, are complied with.

  4. Its investments are limited to securities which are legal investments for credit unions under the state credit union law.

  5. Its dividends on shares, if any, are distributed as prescribed by the state credit union law.

I, the undersigned, a duly authorized officer of the Credit Union, Inc., declare that the above information is a true statement of facts concerning the credit union.

Signature of OfficerTitle

Other Mutual Financial Organizations

Every other organization included in this section must show in its application the state in which the organization is incorporated and the date of incorporation; the character of the organization; the purpose for which it was organized; its actual activities; the sources of its receipts and the disposition thereof; whether any of its income may be credited to surplus or may benefit any private shareholder or individual; whether the law relating to loans, investments, and dividends is being complied with; and, in general, all facts relating to its operations that affect its right to exemption.

The application must include detailed information showing either that the organization provides both reserve funds for and insurance of shares and deposits of its member financial organizations or that the organization provides reserve funds for shares or deposits of its members and 85% or more of the organization's income is from providing reserve funds and from investments. There should be attached a conformed copy of the articles of incorporation or other document setting forth the permitted powers or activities of the organization; the bylaws or other similar code of regulations; and the latest annual financial statement showing the receipts, disbursements, assets, and liabilities of the organization.

501(c)(19) - Veterans' Organizations

A post or organization of past or present members of the Armed Forces of the United States must file Form 1024 to apply for recognition of exemption from federal income tax. You should follow the general procedures outlined in chapter 1. The organization must also meet the qualifications described in this section.

Examples of groups that qualify for exemption are posts or auxiliaries of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and similar organizations.

To qualify for recognition of exemption, your application should show:

  1. That the post or organization is organized in the United States or any of its possessions,

  2. That at least 75% of the members are past or present members of the U.S. Armed Forces and that at least 97.5% of all members of the organization are past or present members of the U.S. Armed Forces, cadets (including only students in college or university ROTC programs or at armed services academies) or spouses, widows, widowers, ancestors, or lineal descendants of any of those listed here, and

  3. That no part of net earnings inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.

In addition to these requirements, a veterans' organization also must be operated exclusively for one or more of the following purposes.

  1. To promote the social welfare of the community (that is, to promote in some way the common good and general welfare of the people of the community).

  2. To assist disabled and needy war veterans and members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their dependents and the widows and orphans of deceased veterans.

  3. To provide entertainment, care, and assistance to hospitalized veterans or members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

  4. To carry on programs to perpetuate the memory of deceased veterans and members of the Armed Forces and to comfort their survivors.

  5. To conduct programs for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes.

  6. To sponsor or participate in activities of a patriotic nature.

  7. To provide insurance benefits for its members or dependents of its members or both.

  8. To provide social and recreational activities for its members.

Auxiliary unit.   An auxiliary unit or society of a veterans' organization can apply for recognition of exemption provided that the veterans' organization (parent organization) meets the requirements explained earlier in this section. The auxiliary unit or society must also meet all the following additional requirements.
  1. It is affiliated with, and organized in accordance with, the bylaws and regulations formulated by the parent organization.

  2. At least 75% of its members are either past or present members of the U.S. Armed Forces, spouses of those members, or related to those members within two degrees of kinship (grandparent, brother, sister, and grandchild represent the most distant allowable relationship).

  3. All of its members either are members of the parent organization, spouses of a member of the parent organization, or related to a member of such organization within two degrees of kinship.

  4. No part of its net earnings inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.

Trusts or foundations.   Trusts or foundations for a veterans' organization also can apply for recognition of exemption provided that the parent organization meets the requirements explained earlier. The trust or foundation must also meet all the following qualifications.
  1. The trust or foundation is in existence under local law and, if it is organized for charitable purposes, has a dissolution provision similar to charitable organizations. (See Articles of Organization in chapter 3 of this publication.)

  2. The corpus or income cannot be diverted or used other than for:

    1. The funding of a veterans' organization, described in this section,

    2. Religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, or

    3. An insurance set aside.

  3. The trust income is not unreasonably accumulated and, if the trust or foundation is not an insurance set aside, a substantial portion of the income is in fact distributed to the parent organization or for the purposes described in item 2(b).

  4. It is organized exclusively for one or more of the purposes listed earlier in this section that are specifically applicable to the parent organization.

Tax treatment of donations.   Donations to war veterans' organizations are deductible as charitable contributions on the donor's federal income tax return. At least 90% of the organization's membership must consist of war veterans. The term war veterans means persons, whether or not present members of the U.S. Armed Forces, who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces during a period of war (including the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, the Persian Gulf war, and later declared wars).

501(c)(20) - Group Legal Services Plan Organizations

An organization or trust created in the U.S. for the exclusive function of forming a part of a qualified group legal services plan or plans cannot be exempt under section 501(c)(20) after June 30, 1992. However, an organization that has already received a determination or ruling letter from the IRS recognizing its exemption under section 501(c)(20) may, if it otherwise qualifies, request a ruling or determination modifying its exemption from section 501(c)(20) to section 501(c)(9) effective July 1, 1992.

501(c)(21) - Black Lung Benefit Trusts

If your organization wishes to obtain recognition of exemption as a black lung benefit trust, it must file its application by letter and include a copy of its trust instrument. The general procedures to follow for obtaining recognition are discussed in chapter 1 of this publication. This section describes the additional (or specific) information to be provided upon application.

Requirements.   A black lung benefit trust that is established in writing, created or organized in the United States, and contributed to by any person (except an insurance company) will qualify for tax-exempt status if it meets both of the following requirements. The trust must be irrevocable and there can be no right or possibility or reversion of the corpus or income of the trust to the coal mine operator or other creator, except that the creator may recover excess contributions.
  1. Its only purpose is:

    1. To satisfy in whole or in part the liability of that person (generally, the coal mine operator contributing to the trust) for, or with respect to, claims for compensation arising under federal or state statutes for disability or death due to pneumoconiosis,

    2. To pay the premiums for insurance that covers only that liability,

    3. To pay the administrative and other incidental expenses of that trust (including legal, accounting, actuarial, and trustee expenses) in connection with the operation of the trust and processing of black lung claims against such person arising under federal or state statutes, and

    4. To pay accident and health benefits or insurance premiums and other administrative expenses for retired coal miners and their spouses. The amount of assets available for such use is generally limited to 110% of the present value of the liability for black lung benefits.

  2. No part of its assets can be used for, or diverted to, any purposes other than:

    1. The purposes described in 1,

    2. Payments into the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund or into the general fund of the U.S. Treasury (other than in satisfaction of any tax or other civil or criminal liability of the person who established or contributed to the trust),

    3. Investment in public debt securities of the U.S., obligations of a state or local government that are not in default as to principal or interest, or time or demand deposits in a bank or an insured credit union located in the United States. (These investments are restricted to the extent that the trustee determines that a portion of the assets is not currently needed for the purposes described in 1.)

  An annual information return is required of exempt trusts described in section 501(c)(21). Form 990-BL, Information and Initial Excise Tax Return for Black Lung Benefit Trusts and Certain Related Persons, must be used for this purpose. A trust that normally has gross receipts in each tax year of no more than $50,000 is excepted from this filing requirement. However, it must submit an annual electronic notice, Form 990-N (e-Postcard).

Excise taxes.   See Chapter 5 for information on the excise tax that may be imposed on the organization.

Tax treatment of donations.   Contributions by a taxpayer (generally, the coal mine operator) to a black lung benefit trust are deductible for federal income tax purposes under section 192. The deduction is limited, and any excess contributions are subject to an excise tax of 5%. Form 6069, Return of Excise Tax on Excess Contributions to Black Lung Benefit Trust Under Section 4953 and Computation of Section 192 Deduction, is used to compute the allowable deduction and any excise tax liability. The form does not have to be filed if there is no excise tax liability. For more information about these contributions, see Form 6069 and its instructions.

501(c)(2) - Title-Holding Corporations for Single Parent Corporations

If your organization wants to obtain recognition of exemption from federal income tax as a corporation organized to hold title to property, collect income from that property, and turn over the entire amount less expenses to a single parent organization that is exempt from income tax, it must file its application on Form 1024. The information to submit upon application is described in this section. For a discussion of the procedures for obtaining recognition of exemption, see chapter 1, Application Procedures.

You must show that your organization is a corporation. If you are in doubt as to whether your organization qualifies as a corporation for this purpose, contact your IRS office.

A title-holding corporation will qualify for exemption only if there is effective ownership and control over it by the distributee exempt organization. For example, the distributee organization may control the title-holding corporation by owning its voting stock or possessing the power to select nominees to hold its voting stock.

Corporate charter.   The corporate charter must confine the purposes and powers of your organization to holding title to property, collecting income from the property, and turning the income over to an exempt organization. If the charter authorizes your organization to engage in activities that go beyond these limits, its exemption may not be recognized even if its actual operations are so limited. If your organization's original charter does not limit its powers, you can amend the charter to conform to the required limits and submit evidence with your application that the charter has been amended.

Payment of income.   You must show that your corporation is required to turn over the entire income from the property, less expenses, to one or more exempt organizations.

  Actual payment of the income is required. A mere obligation to use the income for the exempt organization's benefit, or the fact that such organization has control over the income does not satisfy this requirement.

Expenses.   Expenses may reduce the amount of income required to be turned over to the tax-exempt organization for which your organization holds property. The term expenses (for this purpose) includes not only ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred, but also reasonable additions to depreciation reserves and other reserves that would be proper for a business corporation holding title to and maintaining property.

  In addition, the title-holding corporation can retain part of its income each year to apply to debt on property to which it holds title. This transaction is treated as if the income had been turned over to the exempt organization and the latter had used the income to make a contribution to the capital of the title-holding corporation that in turn applied the contribution to the debt.

Waiver of payment of income.   Generally, there is no payment of rent when the occupant of property held by your title-holding corporation is the exempt organization for which your corporation holds the title. In this situation, the statutory requirement that income be paid over to the exempt organization is satisfied if your corporation turns over whatever income is available.

Application for recognition of exemption.   In addition to the information required by Form 1024, the title-holding corporation must furnish evidence that the organization for which title is held has obtained recognition of exempt status. If that organization has not been specifically notified in writing by the IRS that it is exempt, the title-holding corporation must submit the necessary application and supporting documents to enable the IRS to determine whether the organization for which title is held qualifies for exemption. A copy of a ruling or determination letter issued to the organization for which title is held will be proof that it qualifies for exemption. However, until the organization for which title is held obtains recognition of exempt status or proof is submitted to show that it qualifies, the title-holding corporation cannot obtain recognition of exemption.

Tax treatment of donations.   Donations to an exempt title-holding corporation generally are not deductible as charitable contributions on the donor's federal income tax return.

501(c)(25) - Title-Holding Corporations or Trusts for Multiple Parent Corporations

If your organization wants to obtain recognition of exemption from federal income tax as an organization organized for the exclusive purpose of acquiring, holding title to, and collecting income from real property, and turning over the entire amount less expenses to member organizations exempt from income tax, it should file its application on Form 1024. For a discussion of the procedures for obtaining recognition of exemption, see chapter 1, Application Procedures.

Who can control the organization.   Organizations recognized as exempt under this section can have up to 35 shareholders or beneficiaries, in contrast to title-holding organizations recognized as exempt under section 501(c)(2), which can have only one controlling parent organization.

Organizational requirements.   A 501(c)(25) organization must be either a corporation or a trust. Only one class of stock is permitted in the case of a corporation. In the case of a trust, only one class of beneficial interest is allowed.

  Organizations eligible to acquire or hold interests in this type of title-holding organization are qualified pension, profit-sharing, or stock bonus plans, governmental plans, governments and their agencies and instrumentalities, and charitable organizations.

  The articles of incorporation or trust instrument must include provisions showing that the corporation or trust is organized to meet the requirements of the statute, including compliance with the limitations on membership and classes of stock or beneficial interest, and compliance with the income distribution requirements. The organizing document must permit the organization's shareholders or beneficiaries to dismiss the organization's investment advisor, if any, upon a vote of the shareholders or beneficiaries holding a majority interest in the organization.

  The organizing document must permit the shareholders or beneficiaries to terminate their interests by at least one of the following methods.
  1. By selling or exchanging their stock or beneficial interest to any organization described in section 501(c)(25)(C), provided that the sale or exchange does not cause the number of shareholders or beneficiaries to exceed 35.

  2. By having their stock or beneficial interest redeemed by the section 501(c)(25) organization upon 90 days notice.

If state law prevents a corporation from including in its articles of incorporation the above provisions, such provisions must instead be included in the bylaws of the corporation.

  A 501(c)(25) organization can be organized as a nonstock corporation if its articles of incorporation or bylaws provide members with the same rights as described above.

Subsidiaries.   A wholly owned subsidiary will not be treated as a separate corporation, and all assets, liabilities, and items of income, deduction, and credit will be treated as belonging to the section 501(c)(25) organization. Subsidiaries should not apply separately for recognition of exemption.

Tax treatment of donations.   Donations to an exempt title-holding corporation generally are not deductible as charitable contributions on the donor's federal income tax return.

Unrelated Business Income

In general, the receipt of unrelated business income by a section 501(c)(25) organization will subject the organization to loss of exempt status since the organization cannot be exempt from taxation if it engages in any business other than that of holding title to real property and collecting the income from the property. However, exempt status generally will not be affected by the receipt of debt-financed income that is treated as unrelated business taxable income solely because of section 514.

Under section 514(c)(9), certain shareholders or beneficiaries are not subject to unrelated debt-financed income tax under section 514 on their investments through the organization. These shareholders are generally schools, colleges, universities, or supporting organizations of such educational institutions. Organizations other than these will take into account as gross income from an unrelated trade or business their pro rata share of income that is treated as unrelated debt-financed income because section 514(c)(9) does not apply. These organizations will also take their pro rata share of the allowable deductions from unrelated taxable income.

Real property.   Real property can include personal property leased in connection with real property, but only if the rent from the personal property is not more than 15% of the total rent for both the real property and the personal property.

  Real property acquired after June 10, 1987, cannot include any interest as a tenant in common (or similar interest) or any indirect interest.

501(c)(26) - State-Sponsored High-Risk Health Coverage Organizations

A state-sponsored organization established to provide medical care to high-risk individuals should apply by letter for recognition of exemption from federal income tax under section 501(c)(26).

To qualify for exemption, the organization must be a membership organization established by a state exclusively to provide coverage for medical care on a nonprofit basis to high-risk individuals who are state residents. It can provide coverage either by issuing insurance itself or by entering into an arrangement with a health maintenance organization (HMO).

The state must determine the composition of membership in the organization. No part of the net earnings of the organization can inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.

High-risk individuals.   These are individuals, their spouses and qualifying children, who, because of a pre-existing medical condition:
  1. Cannot get medical care coverage for that condition through insurance or an HMO, or

  2. Can get coverage for that condition only at a rate that is substantially higher than the rate for the same coverage from the state-sponsored organization.

501(c)(27) - Qualified State-Sponsored Workers' Compensation Organizations

501(c)(27)(A) -- Pre-June 1, 1996, Organizations.   A state-sponsored workers' compensation reinsurance organization should apply by letter for recognition of exemption from federal income tax under section 501(c)(27).

  To qualify for exemption, any membership organization must meet all the following requirements.
  1. It was established by a state before June 1, 1996, exclusively to reimburse its members for losses under workers' compensation acts.

  2. The state requires that the membership consist of all persons who issue insurance covering workers' compensation losses in the state and all persons and government entities who self-insure against those losses.

  3. It operates as a nonprofit organization by returning surplus income to its members or workers' compensation policyholders on a periodic basis and by reducing initial premiums in anticipation of investment income.

501(c)(27)(B) -- Organizations formed after December 31, 1997.   Any organization (including a mutual insurance company) can qualify for exemption if it meets all of the following requirements.
  1. It is created by state law and is organized and operated under state law exclusively to:

    1. Provide workmen's compensation insurance which is required by state law or state law must provide significant disincentives if employers fail to purchase such insurance, and

    2. Provide related coverage which is incidental to workmen's compensation insurance.

  2. It provides workmen's compensation insurance to any employer in the state (for employees in the state or temporarily assigned out-of-state) which seeks such insurance and meets other reasonable requirements relating to the insurance.

  3. The state makes a financial commitment to such organization either by extending its full faith and credit to the initial debt of the organization or by providing the initial operating capital of the organization.

  4. The assets of the organization revert to the state upon dissolution or the organization is not permitted to dissolve under state law.

  5. The majority of the board of directors or oversight body of such organization are appointed by the chief executive officer or other executive branch official of the state, by the state legislature, or by both.

501(c)(29) - CO-OP Health Insurance Issuers

This includes a qualified nonprofit health insurance issuer which has received a loan or grant under the CO-OP Program under this section of the Code.

New Guidance for IRC 501(c)(29) Qualified Nonprofit Health Insurance Issuers

Section 501(c)(29), added to the Code by section 1322(h)(1) of the Affordable Care Act, provides for the exemption of qualified nonprofit health insurance issuers (QNHIIs) that have received a loan or grant under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) CO-OP program for periods that they meet both the requirements of section 1322 of the Affordable Care Act and of any loan agreement with CMS. The CO-OP program provides loans and repayable grants to foster the creation of member governed QNHIIs that will operate with a strong consumer focus and offer qualified health insurance plans. Notice 2011-23, 2011-13 I.R.B. 588, discussed requirements for tax exemption for QNHIIs described in new Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(29). IRS Notice 2011-23. The Notice provides guidance on the annual filing requirement for organizations that intend to apply for recognition of section 501(c)(29) status. Revenue Procedure 2012-11, 2012-7 I.R.B. 368, issued in conjunction with temporary regulations and a notice of proposed rulemaking, sets out the procedures for issuing determination letters and rulings on the exempt status of QNHIIs and provides guidance on the effective date of exempt status. Revenue Procedure 2012–11.

General Requirements for Exemption under 501(c)(29) and Annual Filing Requirement

In general, section 501(c)(29) applies to certain organizations receiving loans or repayable grants under the CO-OP program. An organization will qualify for exemption under section 501(c)(29) only if:

  • The organization has received a loan or a repayable grant under the CO-OP program and is in compliance with all requirements of the CO-OP program and any agreement with CMS;

  • The organization has applied for recognition of exemption;

  • No part of the organization’s net earnings inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, except that the organization is required by section 1322(c)(4) of the Affordable Care Act to use its profits to lower premiums, improve benefits or improve the quality of health care delivered to its members;

  • No substantial part of the organization’s activities involves attempts to influence legislation; and

  • The organization does not participate or intervene in political campaigns. See Revenue Procedure 2012-11 for complete instructions for filing exemption applications.

Additional Guidance for Prospective 501(c)(29) Organizations

An organization claiming exempt status under section 501(c)(29) that intends to file an application for recognition of exemption should begin filing Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, and indicate on its return that it has not yet received a determination letter. In addition to the general information required on Form 990, these organizations must report certain information regarding required reserves.


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