4.   Unrelated Business Taxable Income

The term “unrelated business taxable income” generally means the gross income derived from any unrelated trade or business regularly conducted by the exempt organization, less the deductions directly connected with carrying on the trade or business. If an organization regularly carries on two or more unrelated business activities, its unrelated business taxable income is the total of gross income from all such activities less the total allowable deductions attributable to all the activities.

In computing unrelated business taxable income, gross income and deductions are subject to the modifications and special rules explained in this chapter. Whether a particular item of income or expense falls within any of these modifications or special rules must be determined by all the facts and circumstances in each specific case. For example, if the organization received a payment termed rent that is in fact a return of profits by a person operating the property for the benefit of the organization, or that is a share of the profits retained by the organization as a partner or joint venturer, the payment is not within the income exclusion for rents, discussed later under Exclusions.

Income

Generally, unrelated business income is taxable, but there are exclusions and special rules that must be considered when figuring the income.

Exclusions

The following types of income (and deductions directly connected with the income) are generally excluded when figuring unrelated business taxable income.

Dividends, interest, annuities and other investment income.   All dividends, interest, annuities, payments with respect to securities loans, income from notional principal contracts, and other income from an exempt organization's ordinary and routine investments that the IRS determines are substantially similar to these types of income are excluded in computing unrelated business taxable income.

Exception for insurance activity income of a controlled foreign corporation.   This exclusion does not apply to income from certain insurance activities of an exempt organization's controlled foreign corporation. The income is not excludable dividend income, but instead is unrelated business taxable income to the extent it would be so treated if the exempt organization had earned it directly. Certain exceptions to this rule apply. For more information, see section 512(b)(17).

Other exceptions.   This exclusion does not apply to unrelated debt-financed income (discussed under Income From Debt-Financed Property, later), to interest or annuities received from a controlled corporation (discussed under Income From Controlled Organizations, later).

Income from lending securities.   Payments received with respect to a security loan are excluded in computing unrelated business taxable income only if the loan is made under an agreement that:

  
  1. Provides for the return to the exempt organization of securities identical to the securities loaned,

  2. Requires payments to the organization of amounts equivalent to all interest, dividends, and other distributions that the owner of the securities is entitled to receive during the period of the loan,

  3. Does not reduce the organization's risk of loss or opportunity for gain on the securities,

  4. Contains reasonable procedures to implement the obligation of the borrower to furnish collateral to the organization with a fair market value each business day during the period of the loan in an amount not less than the fair market value of the securities at the close of the preceding business day, and

  5. Permits the organization to terminate the loan upon notice of not more than 5 business days.

  Payments with respect to securities loans include:
  1. Amounts in respect of dividends, interest, and other distributions,

  2. Fees based on the period of time the loan is in effect and the fair market value of the security during that period,

  3. Income from collateral security for the loan, and

  4. Income from the investment of collateral security.

The payments are considered to be from the securities loaned and not from collateral security or the investment of collateral security from the loans. Any deductions that are directly connected with collateral security for the loan, or with the investment of collateral security, are considered deductions that are directly connected with the securities loaned.

Royalties.   Royalties, including overriding royalties, are excluded in computing unrelated business taxable income.

  To be considered a royalty, a payment must relate to the use of a valuable right. Payments for trademarks, trade names, or copyrights are ordinarily considered royalties. Similarly, payments for the use of a professional athlete's name, photograph, likeness, or facsimile signature are ordinarily considered royalties. However, royalties do not include payments for personal services. Therefore, payments for personal appearances and interviews are not excluded as royalties and must be included in figuring unrelated business taxable income.

  Unrelated business taxable income does not include royalty income received from licensees by an exempt organization that is the legal and beneficial owner of patents assigned to it by inventors for specified percentages of future royalties.

  Mineral royalties are excluded whether measured by production or by gross or taxable income from the mineral property. However, the exclusion does not apply to royalties that stem from an arrangement whereby the organization owns a working interest in a mineral property and is liable for its share of the development and operating costs under the terms of its agreement with the operator of the property. To the extent they are not treated as loans under section 636 (relating to income tax treatment of mineral production payments), payments for mineral production are treated in the same manner as royalty payments for the purpose of computing unrelated business taxable income. To the extent they are treated as loans, any payments for production that are the equivalent of interest are treated as interest and are excluded.

Exceptions.   This exclusion does not apply to debt-financed income (discussed under Income From Debt-Financed Property, later) or to royalties received from a controlled corporation (discussed under Income From Controlled Organizations, later).

Rents.   Rents from real property, including elevators and escalators, are excluded in computing unrelated business taxable income. Rents from personal property are not excluded. However, special rules apply to “mixed leases” of both real and personal property.

Mixed leases.   In a mixed lease, all of the rents are excluded if the rents attributable to the personal property are not more than 10% of the total rents under the lease, as determined when the personal property is first placed in service by the lessee. If the rents attributable to personal property are more than 10% but not more than 50% of the total rents, only the rents attributable to the real property are excluded. If the rents attributable to the personal property are more than 50% of the total rents, none of the rents are excludable.

  Property is placed in service when the lessee first may use it under the terms of a lease. For example, property subject to a lease entered into on November 1, for a term starting on January 1 of the next year, is considered placed in service on January 1, regardless of when the lessee first actually uses it.

  If separate leases are entered into for real and personal property and the properties have an integrated use (for example, one or more leases for real property and another lease or leases for personal property to be used on the real property), all the leases will be considered as one lease.

  The rent attributable to the personal property must be recomputed, and the treatment of the rents must be redetermined, if:
  1. The rent attributable to all the leased personal property increases by 100% or more because additional or substitute personal property is placed in service, or

  2. The lease is modified to change the rent charged (whether or not the amount of rented personal property changes).

Any change in the treatment of rents resulting from the recomputation is effective only for the period beginning with the event that caused the recomputation.

Exception for rents based on net profit.   The exclusion for rents does not apply if the amount of the rent depends on the income or profits derived by any person from the leased property, other than an amount based on a fixed percentage of the gross receipts or sales.

Exception for income from personal services.   Payment for occupying space when personal services are also rendered to the occupant does not constitute rent from real property. Therefore, the exclusion does not apply to transactions such as renting hotel rooms, rooms in boarding houses or tourist homes, and space in parking lots or warehouses.

Other exceptions.   This exclusion does not apply to unrelated debt-financed income (discussed under Income From Debt-Financed Property, later), or to interest, annuities, royalties and rents received from a controlled corporation (discussed under Income From Controlled Organizations, later), investment income (dividends, interest, rents, etc.) received by organizations described in sections 501(c)(7), 501(c)(9), 501(c)(17), and 501(c)(20). See Special Rules for Social Clubs, VEBAs, SUBs, and GLSOs, discussed later for more information.

Income from research.   A tax-exempt organization may exclude income from research grants or contracts from unrelated business taxable income. However, the extent of the exclusion depends on the nature of the organization and the type of research.

  Income from research for the United States, any of its agencies or instrumentalities, or a state or any of its political subdivisions is excluded when computing unrelated business taxable income.

  For a college, university, or hospital, all income from research, whether fundamental or applied, is excluded in computing unrelated business taxable income.

  When an organization is operated primarily to conduct fundamental research (as distinguished from applied research) and the results are freely available to the general public, all income from research performed for any person is excluded in computing unrelated business taxable income.

  The term research, for this purpose, does not include activities of a type normally conducted as an incident to commercial or industrial operations, such as testing or inspecting materials or products, or designing or constructing equipment, buildings, etc. In addition, the term fundamental research does not include research conducted for the primary purpose of commercial or industrial application.

Gains and losses from disposition of property.   Also excluded from unrelated business taxable income are gains or losses from the sale, exchange, or other disposition of property other than:
  1. Stock in trade or other property of a kind that would properly be includable in inventory if on hand at the close of the tax year,

  2. Property held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of a trade or business, or

  3. Cutting of timber that an organization has elected to consider as a sale or exchange of the timber.

  It should be noted that the last exception relates only to cut timber. The sale, exchange, or other disposition of standing timber is excluded from the computation of unrelated business income, unless it constitutes property held for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business.

Lapse or termination of options.   Any gain from the lapse or termination of options to buy or sell securities is excluded from unrelated business taxable income. The exclusion applies only if the option is written in connection with the exempt organization's investment activities. Therefore, this exclusion is not available if the organization is engaged in the trade or business of writing options or the options are held by the organization as inventory or for sale to customers in the ordinary course of a trade or business.

Exception.   This exclusion does not apply to unrelated debt-financed income, discussed later under Income From Debt-Financed Property.

Gain or loss on disposition of certain brownfield property.   Gain or loss from the qualifying sale, exchange, or other disposition of a qualifying brownfield property (as defined in section 512(b)(19)(C)), which was acquired by the organization after December 31, 2005 and before January 1, 2011, is excluded from unrelated business taxable income and is excepted from the debt-financed rules for such property. See sections 512(b)(19) and 514(b)(1)(E).

Income from services provided under federal license.   There is a further exclusion from unrelated business taxable income of income from a trade or business conducted by a religious order or by an educational organization maintained by the order.

  This exclusion applies only if the following requirements are met.
  1. The trade or business must have been operated by the order or by the institution before May 27, 1959.

  2. The trade or business must provide services under a license issued by a federal regulatory agency.

  3. More than 90% of the net income from the business for the tax year must be devoted to religious, charitable, or educational purposes that constitute the basis for the religious order's exemption.

  4. The rates or other charges for these services must be fully competitive with the rates or other charges of similar taxable businesses. Rates or other charges for these services will be considered as fully competitive if they are neither materially higher nor materially lower than the rates charged by similar businesses operating in the same general area.

Exception.    This exclusion does not apply to unrelated debt-financed income (discussed under Income From Debt-Financed Property, later).

Member income of mutual or cooperative electric companies.   Income of a mutual or cooperative electric company described in section 501(c)(12) which is treated as member income under subparagraph (H) of that section is excluded from unrelated business taxable income.

Dues of Agricultural Organizations and Business Leagues

Dues received from associate members by organizations exempt under section 501(c)(5) or section 501(c)(6) may be treated as gross income from an unrelated trade or business if the associate member category exists for the principal purpose of producing unrelated business income. For example, if an organization creates an associate member category solely to allow associate members to purchase insurance through the organization, the associate member dues may be unrelated business income.

Exception.   Associate member dues received by an agricultural or horticultural organization are not treated as gross income from an unrelated trade or business, regardless of their purpose, if they are not more than the annual limit. The limit on dues paid by an associate member is $148 for 2011.

  If the required annual dues are more than the limit, the entire amount is treated as income from an unrelated business unless the associate member category was formed or availed of for the principal purpose of furthering the organization's exempt purposes.

Deductions

To qualify as allowable deductions in computing unrelated business taxable income, the expenses, depreciation, and similar items generally must be allowable income tax deductions that are directly connected with carrying on an unrelated trade or business. They cannot be directly connected with excluded income.

For an exception to the “directly connected” requirement, see Charitable contributions deduction, under Modifications, later.

Directly Connected

To be directly connected with the conduct of an unrelated business, deductions must have a proximate and primary relationship to carrying on that business. For an exception, see Expenses attributable to exploitation of exempt activities, later.

Expenses attributable solely to unrelated business.   Expenses, depreciation, and similar items attributable solely to the conduct of an unrelated business are proximately and primarily related to that business and qualify for deduction to the extent that they are otherwise allowable income tax deductions.

  For example, salaries of personnel employed full-time to conduct the unrelated business and depreciation of a building used entirely in the conduct of that business are deductible to the extent otherwise allowable.

Expenses attributable to dual use of facilities or personnel.   When facilities or personnel are used both to conduct exempt functions and to conduct an unrelated trade or business, expenses, depreciation, and similar items attributable to the facilities or personnel must be allocated between the two uses on a reasonable basis. The part of an item allocated to the unrelated trade or business is proximately and primarily related to that business and is allowable as a deduction in computing unrelated business taxable income if the expense is otherwise an allowable income tax deduction.

Example 1.

A school recognized as a tax-exempt organization contracts with an individual to conduct a summer tennis camp. The school provides the tennis courts, housing, and dining facilities. The contracted individual hires the instructors, recruits campers, and provides supervision. The income the school receives from this activity is from a dual use of the facilities and personnel. The school, in computing its unrelated business taxable income, may deduct an allocable part of the expenses attributable to the facilities and personnel.

Example 2.

An exempt organization with gross income from an unrelated trade or business pays its president $90,000 a year. The president devotes approximately 10% of his time to the unrelated business. To figure the organization's unrelated business taxable income, a deduction of $9,000 ($90,000 × 10%) is allowed for the salary paid to its president.

Expenses attributable to exploitation of exempt activities.   Generally, expenses, depreciation, and similar items attributable to the conduct of an exempt activity are not deductible in computing unrelated business taxable income from an unrelated trade or business that exploits the exempt activity. (See Exploitation of exempt functions under Not substantially related in chapter 3.) This is because they do not have a proximate and primary relationship to the unrelated trade or business, and therefore, they do not qualify as directly connected with that business.

Exception.   Expenses, depreciation, and similar items may be treated as directly connected with the conduct of the unrelated business if all the following statements are true.
  1. The unrelated business exploits the exempt activity.

  2. The unrelated business is a type normally conducted for profit by taxable organizations.

  3. The exempt activity is a type normally conducted by taxable organizations in carrying on that type of business.

The amount treated as directly connected is the smaller of:
  1. The excess of these expenses, depreciation, and similar items over the income from, or attributable to, the exempt activity; or

  2. The gross unrelated business income reduced by all other expenses, depreciation, and other items that are actually directly connected.

  The application of these rules to an advertising activity that exploits an exempt publishing activity is explained next.

Exploitation of Exempt Activity—Advertising Sales

The sale of advertising in a periodical of an exempt organization that contains editorial material related to the accomplishment of the organization's exempt purpose is an unrelated business that exploits an exempt activity, the circulation and readership of the periodical. Therefore, in addition to direct advertising costs, exempt activity costs (expenses, depreciation, and similar expenses attributable to the production and distribution of the editorial or readership content) can be treated as directly connected with the conduct of the advertising activity. (See Expenses attributable to exploitation of exempt activities under Directly Connected, earlier.)

Figuring unrelated business taxable income (UBTI).   The UBTI of an advertising activity is the amount shown in the following chart.
IF gross advertising income is . . . THEN UBTI is . . .
More than direct advertising costs The excess advertising income, reduced (but not below zero) by the excess, if any, of readership costs over circulation income.
Equal to or less than direct advertising costs Zero. 
 
• Circulation income and readership costs are not taken into account. 
 
• Any excess advertising costs reduce (but not below zero) UBTI from any other unrelated business activity.

  The terms used in the chart are explained in the following discussions.

Periodical Income

Gross advertising income.   This is all the income from the unrelated advertising activities of an exempt organization periodical.

Circulation income.   This is all the income from the production, distribution, or circulation of an exempt organization's periodical (other than gross advertising income). It includes all amounts from the sale or distribution of the readership content of the periodical, such as income from subscriptions. It also includes allocable membership receipts if the right to receive the periodical is associated with a membership or similar status in the organization.

Allocable membership receipts.   This is the part of membership receipts (dues, fees, or other charges associated with membership) equal to the amount that would have been charged and paid for the periodical if:
  1. The periodical was published by a taxable organization,

  2. The periodical was published for profit, and

  3. The member was an unrelated party dealing with the taxable organization at arm's length.

  The amount used to allocate membership receipts is the amount shown in the following chart.

  For this purpose, the total periodical costs are the sum of the direct advertising costs and the readership costs, explained under Periodical Costs, later. The cost of other exempt activities means the total expenses incurred by the organization in connection with its other exempt activities, not offset by any income earned by the organization from those activities.
IF . . . THEN the amount used to allocate membership receipts is . . .
20% or more of the total circulation consists of sales to nonmembers The subscription price charged nonmembers.
The above condition does not apply, and 20% or more of the members pay reduced dues because they do not receive the periodical The reduction in dues for a member not receiving the periodical.
Neither of the above conditions applies The membership receipts multiplied by this fraction:
  Total periodical costs 
Total periodical costs 
Plus 
Cost of other exempt activities

Example 1.

U is an exempt scientific organization with 10,000 members who pay annual dues of $15. One of U's activities is publishing a monthly periodical distributed to all of its members. U also distributes 5,000 additional copies of its periodical to nonmembers, who subscribe for $10 a year. Since the nonmember circulation of U's periodical represents one-third (more than 20%) of its total circulation, the subscription price charged to nonmembers is used to determine the part of U's membership receipts allocable to the periodical. Thus, U's allocable membership receipts are $100,000 ($10 times 10,000 members), and U's total circulation income for the periodical is $150,000 ($100,000 from members plus $50,000 from sales to nonmembers).

Example 2.

Assume the same facts except that U sells only 500 copies of its periodical to nonmembers, at a price of $10 a year. Assume also that U's members may elect not to receive the periodical, in which case their dues are reduced from $15 a year to $6 a year, and that only 3,000 members elect to receive the periodical and pay the full dues of $15 a year. U's stated subscription price of $9 to members consistently results in an excess of total income (including gross advertising income) attributable to the periodical over total costs of the periodical. Since the 500 copies of the periodical distributed to nonmembers represent only 14% of the 3,500 copies distributed, the $10 subscription price charged to nonmembers is not used to determine the part of membership receipts allocable to the periodical. Instead, since 70% of the members elect not to receive the periodical and pay $9 less per year in dues, the $9 price is used to determine the subscription price charged to members. Thus, the allocable membership receipts will be $9 a member, or $27,000 ($9 times 3,000 copies). U's total circulation income is $32,000 ($27,000 plus the $5,000 from nonmember subscriptions).

Periodical Costs

Direct advertising costs.   These are expenses, depreciation, and similar items of deduction directly connected with selling and publishing advertising in the periodical.

  Examples of allowable deductions under this classification include agency commissions and other direct selling costs, such as transportation and travel expenses, office salaries, promotion and research expenses, and office overhead directly connected with the sale of advertising lineage in the periodical. Also included are other deductions commonly classified as advertising costs under standard account classifications, such as artwork and copy preparation, telephone, telegraph, postage, and similar costs directly connected with advertising.

  In addition, direct advertising costs include the part of mechanical and distribution costs attributable to advertising lineage. For this purpose, the general account classifications of items includable in mechanical and distribution costs ordinarily employed in business-paper and consumer-publication accounting provide a guide for the computation. Accordingly, the mechanical and distribution costs include the part of the costs and other expenses of composition, press work, binding, mailing (including paper and wrappers used for mailing), and bulk postage attributable to the advertising lineage of the publication.

  In the absence of specific and detailed records, the part of mechanical and distribution costs attributable to the periodical's advertising lineage can be based on the ratio of advertising lineage to total lineage in the periodical, if this allocation is reasonable.

Readership costs.   These are all expenses, depreciation, and similar items that are directly connected with the production and distribution of the readership content of the periodical.

Costs partly attributable to other activities.   Deductions properly attributable to exempt activities other than publishing the periodical may not be allocated to the periodical. When expenses are attributable both to the periodical and to the organization's other activities, an allocation must be made on a reasonable basis. The method of allocation will vary with the nature of the item, but once adopted, should be used consistently. Allocations based on dollar receipts from various exempt activities generally are not reasonable since receipts usually do not accurately reflect the costs associated with specific activities that an exempt organization conducts.

Consolidated Periodicals

If an exempt organization publishes more than one periodical to produce income, it may treat all of them (but not less than all) as one in determining unrelated business taxable income from selling advertising. It treats the gross income from all the periodicals, and the deductions directly connected with them, on a consolidated basis. Consolidated treatment, once adopted, must be followed consistently and is binding. This treatment can be changed only with the consent of the Internal Revenue Service.

An exempt organization's periodical is published to produce income if:

  1. The periodical generates gross advertising income to the organization equal to at least 25% of its readership costs, and

  2. Publishing the periodical is an activity engaged in for profit.

Whether the publication of a periodical is an activity engaged in for profit can be determined only by all the facts and circumstances in each case. The facts and circumstances must show that the organization carries on the activity for economic profit, although there may not be a profit in a particular year. For example, if an organization begins publishing a new periodical whose total costs exceed total income in the start-up years because of lack of advertising sales, that does not mean that the organization did not have as its objective an economic profit. The organization may establish that it had this objective by showing it can reasonably expect advertising sales to increase, so that total income will exceed costs within a reasonable time.

Example.

Y, an exempt trade association, publishes three periodicals that it distributes to its members: a weekly newsletter, a monthly magazine, and a quarterly journal. Both the monthly magazine and the quarterly journal contain advertising that accounts for gross advertising income equal to more than 25% of their respective readership costs. Similarly, the total income attributable to each periodical has exceeded the total deductions attributable to each periodical for substantially all the years they have been published. The newsletter carries no advertising and its annual subscription price is not intended to cover the cost of publication. The newsletter is a service that Y distributes to all of its members in an effort to keep them informed of changes occurring in the business world. It is not engaged in for profit.

Under these circumstances, Y may consolidate the income and deductions from the monthly and quarterly journals in computing its unrelated business taxable income. It may not consolidate the income and deductions from the newsletter with the income and deductions of its other periodicals, since the newsletter is not published for the production of income.

Modifications

Net operating loss deduction.   The net operating loss (NOL) deduction (as provided in section 172) is allowed in computing unrelated business taxable income. However, the NOL for any tax year, the carrybacks and carryovers of NOLs, and the NOL deduction are determined without taking into account any amount of income or deduction that has been specifically excluded in computing unrelated business taxable income. For example, a loss from an unrelated trade or business is not diminished because dividend income was received.

  If this were not done, organizations would, in effect, be taxed on their exempt income, since unrelated business losses then would be offset by dividends, interest, and other excluded income. This would reduce the loss that could be applied against unrelated business income of prior or future tax years. Therefore, to preserve the immunity of exempt income, all NOL computations are limited to those items of income and deductions that affect the unrelated business taxable income.

  In line with this concept, an NOL carryback or carryover is allowed only from a tax year for which the organization is subject to tax on unrelated business income.

  For example, if an organization just became subject to the tax last year, its NOL for that year is not a carryback to a prior year when it had no unrelated business taxable income, nor is its NOL carryover to succeeding years reduced by the related income of those prior years.

  However, in determining the span of years for which an NOL may be carried back or forward, the tax years for which the organization is not subject to the tax on unrelated business income are counted. For example, if an organization was subject to the tax for 2009 and had an NOL for that year, the last tax year to which any part of that loss may be carried over is 2029, regardless of whether the organization was subject to the unrelated business income tax in any of the intervening years.

  For more details on the NOL deduction, including property eligible for an extended carryback period, see sections 172 and 1400N, Publication 536, Net Operating Losses (NOLs) for Individuals, Estates, and Trusts, and Publication 4492-B, Information for Affected Taxpayers in the Midwestern Disaster Areas.

Charitable contributions deduction.   An exempt organization is allowed to deduct its charitable contributions in computing its unrelated business taxable income whether or not the contributions are directly connected with the unrelated business.

  To be deductible, the contribution must be paid to another qualified organization. For example, an exempt university that operates an unrelated business may deduct a contribution made to another university for educational work, but may not claim a deduction for contributions of amounts spent for carrying out its own educational program.

  For purposes of the deduction, a distribution by a trust made under the trust instrument to a beneficiary, which itself is a qualified organization, is treated the same as a contribution.

Deduction limits.   An exempt organization that is subject to the unrelated business income tax at corporate rates is allowed a deduction for charitable contributions up to 10% of its unrelated business taxable income computed without regard to the deduction for contributions. See the Instructions for Form 990-T for more information.

   An exempt trust that is subject to the unrelated business income tax at trust rates generally is allowed a deduction for charitable contributions in the same amounts as allowed for individuals. However, the limit on the deduction is determined in relation to the trust's unrelated business taxable income computed without regard to the deduction, rather than in relation to adjusted gross income.

  Contributions in excess of the limits just described may be carried over to the next 5 tax years. A contribution carryover is not allowed, however, to the extent that it increases an NOL carryover.

Suspension of deduction limits for farmers and ranchers.   The limitations discussed above are temporarily suspended for certain qualified conservation contributions of property used in agriculture or livestock production. See the Instructions for Form 990-T for details.

Specific deduction.   In computing unrelated business taxable income, a specific deduction of $1,000 is allowed. However, the specific deduction is not allowed in computing an NOL or the NOL deduction.

  Generally, the deduction is limited to $1,000 regardless of the number of unrelated businesses in which the organization is engaged.

Exception.   An exception is provided in the case of a diocese, province of a religious order, or a convention or association of churches that may claim a specific deduction for each parish, individual church, district, or other local unit. In these cases, the specific deduction for each local unit is limited to the lower of:
  • $1,000, or

  • Gross income derived from an unrelated trade or business regularly conducted by the local unit.

  This exception applies only to parishes, districts, or other local units that are not separate legal entities, but are components of a larger entity (diocese, province, convention, or association) filing Form 990-T. The parent organization must file a return reporting the unrelated business gross income and related deductions of all units that are not separate legal entities. The local units cannot file separate returns. However, each local unit that is separately incorporated must file its own return and cannot include, or be included with, any other entity. See Title-holding corporations in chapter 1 for a discussion of the only situation in which more than one legal entity may be included on the same Form 990-T.

Example.

X is an association of churches and is divided into local units A, B, C, and D. Last year, A, B, C, and D derived gross income of, respectively, $1,200, $800, $1,500, and $700 from unrelated businesses that they regularly conduct. X may claim a specific deduction of $1,000 with respect to A, $800 with respect to B, $1,000 with respect to C, and $700 with respect to D.

Partnership Income or Loss

An organization may have unrelated business income or loss as a member of a partnership, rather than through direct business dealings with the public. If so, it must treat its share of the partnership income or loss as if it had conducted the business activity in its own capacity as a corporation or trust. No distinction is made between limited and general partners. The organization is required to notify the partnership of its tax-exempt status.

Thus, if an organization is a member of a partnership regularly engaged in a trade or business that is an unrelated trade or business with respect to the organization, the organization must include in its unrelated business taxable income its share of the partnership's gross income from the unrelated trade or business (whether or not distributed), and the deductions attributable to it. The partnership income and deductions to be included in the organization's unrelated business taxable income are figured the same way as any income and deductions from an unrelated trade or business conducted directly by the organization. The partnership is required to provide the organization this information on Schedule K-1.

Example.

An exempt educational organization is a partner in a partnership that operates a factory. The partnership also holds stock in a corporation. The exempt organization must include its share of the gross income from operating the factory in its unrelated business taxable income but may exclude its share of any dividends the partnership received from the corporation.

Different tax years.   If the exempt organization and the partnership of which it is a member have different tax years, the partnership items that enter into the computation of the organization's unrelated business taxable income must be based on the income and deductions of the partnership for the partnership's tax year that ends within or with the organization's tax year.

S Corporation Income or Loss

An organization that owns S corporation stock must take into account its share of the S corporation's income, deductions, or losses in figuring unrelated business taxable income, regardless of the actual source or nature of the income, deductions, and losses. For example, the organization's share of the S corporation's interest and dividend income will be taxable, even though interest and dividends are normally excluded from unrelated business taxable income. The organization must also take into account its gain or loss on the sale or other disposition of the S corporation stock in figuring unrelated business taxable income.

Special Rules for Foreign Organizations

The unrelated business taxable income of a foreign organization exempt from tax under section 501(a) consists of the organization's:

  1. Unrelated business taxable income derived from sources within the United States but not effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business within the United States, and

  2. Unrelated business taxable income effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business within the United States, whether or not this income is derived from sources within the United States.

To determine whether income realized by a foreign organization is derived from sources within the United States or is effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business within the United States, see sections 861 through 865 and the related regulations.

Special Rules for Social Clubs, VEBAs, SUBs, and GLSOs

The following discussion applies to:

  • Social clubs described in section 501(c)(7),

  • Voluntary employees' beneficiary associations (VEBAs) described in section 501(c)(9),

  • Supplemental unemployment compensation benefit trusts (SUBs) described in section 501(c)(17), and

  • Group legal services organizations (GLSOs) described in section 501(c)(20).

These organizations must figure unrelated business taxable income under special rules. Unlike other exempt organizations, they cannot exclude their investment income (dividends, interest, rents, etc.). (See Exclusions under Income, earlier.) Therefore, they are generally subject to unrelated business income tax on this income.

The unrelated business taxable income of these organizations includes all gross income, less deductions directly connected with the production of that income, except that gross income for this purpose does not include exempt function income. The dividends received by a corporation are not allowed in computing unrelated business taxable income because it is not an expense incurred in the production of income.

Losses from nonexempt activities.   Losses from nonexempt activities of these organizations cannot be used to offset investment income unless the activities were undertaken with the intent to make a profit.

Example.

A private golf and country club that is a qualified tax-exempt social club has nonexempt function income from interest and from the sale of food and beverages to nonmembers. The club sells food and beverages as a service to members and their guests rather than for the purpose of making a profit. Therefore, any loss resulting from sales to nonmembers cannot be used to offset the club's interest income.

Modifications.   The unrelated business taxable income is modified by any NOL or charitable contributions deduction and by the specific deduction (described earlier under Deductions).

Exempt function income.   This is gross income from dues, fees, charges or similar items paid by members for goods, facilities, or services to the members or their dependents or guests, to further the organization's exempt purposes. Exempt function income also includes income set aside for qualified purposes.

Income that is set aside.   This is income set aside to be used for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals. In addition, for a VEBA, SUB, or GLSO, it is income set aside to provide for the payment of life, sick, accident, or other benefits.

  However, any amounts set aside by a VEBA or SUB that exceed the organization's qualified asset account limit (determined under section 419A) are unrelated business income. Special rules apply to the treatment of existing reserves for post-retirement medical or life insurance benefits. These rules are explained in section 512(a)(3)(E)(ii).

  Income derived from an unrelated trade or business may not be set aside and therefore cannot be exempt function income. In addition, any income set aside and later spent for other purposes must be included in unrelated business taxable income.

  Set-aside income is generally excluded from gross income only if it is set aside in the tax year in which it is otherwise includible in gross income. However, income set aside on or before the date for filing Form 990-T, including extensions of time, may, at the election of the organization, be treated as having been set aside in the tax year for which the return was filed. The income set aside must have been includible in gross income for that earlier year.

Nonrecognition of gain.   If the organization sells property used directly in performing an exempt function and purchases other property used directly in performing an exempt function, any gain on the sale is recognized only to the extent that the sales price of the old property exceeds the cost of the new property. The purchase of the new property must be made within 1 year before the date of sale of the old property or within 3 years after the date of sale.

  This rule also applies to gain from an involuntary conversion of the property resulting from its destruction in whole or in part, theft, seizure, requisition, or condemnation.

Special Rules for Veterans' Organizations

Unrelated business taxable income of a veterans' organization that is exempt under section 501(c)(19) does not include the net income from insurance business that is properly set aside. The organization may set aside income from payments received for life, sick, accident, or health insurance for the organization's members or their dependents for the payment of insurance benefits or reasonable costs of insurance administration, or for use exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, or the prevention of cruelty to children or animals. For details, see section 512(a)(4) and the regulations under that section.

Income From Controlled Organizations

The exclusions for interest, annuities, royalties, and rents, explained earlier in this chapter under Income, may not apply to a payment of these items received by a controlling organization from its controlled organization. The payment is included in the controlling organization's unrelated business taxable income to the extent it reduced the net unrelated income (or increased the net unrelated loss) of the controlled organization. All deductions of the controlling organization directly connected with the amount included in its unrelated business taxable income are allowed.

Excess qualifying specified payments.   Excess qualifying specified payments received or accrued from a controlled entity are included in a controlling exempt organization's unrelated business taxable income only on the amount that exceeds that which would have been paid or accrued if the payments had been determined under section 482. Qualifying specified payments means any payments of interest, annuities, royalties, or rents received or accrued from the controlled organization pursuant to a binding written contract in effect on August 17, 2006, or to a contract which is a renewal, under substantially similar terms of a binding written contract in effect on August 17, 2006, and the payments are received or accrued before January 1, 2012.

  If a controlled participant is not required to file a U.S. income tax return, the participant must ensure that the copy or copies of the Regulations section 1.482-7 Cost Sharing Arrangement Statement and any updates are attached to Schedule M of any Form 5471, Information Return of U.S. Persons With Respect To Certain Foreign Corporations, any Form 5472, Information Return of a 25% Foreign-Owned U.S. Corporation or a Foreign Corporation Engaged in a U.S. Trade or Business, or any Form 8865, Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Partnerships, filed for that participant.

Addition to tax for valuation misstatements.   Under section 512(b)(13)(E)(ii), the tax imposed on a controlling organization will be increased by 20 percent of the excess qualifying specified payments that are determined with or without any amendments or supplements, whichever is larger. See section 512(b)(13)(E)(ii) for more information.

Net unrelated income.   This is:
  • For an exempt organization, its unrelated business taxable income, or

  • For a nonexempt organization, the part of its taxable income that would be unrelated business taxable income if it were exempt and had the same exempt purposes as the controlling organization.

Net unrelated loss.   This is:
  • For an exempt organization, its NOL, or

  • For a nonexempt organization, the part of its NOL that would be its NOL if it were exempt and had the same exempt purposes as the controlling organization.

Control.   An organization is controlled if:
  • For a corporation, the controlling organization owns (by vote or value) more than 50% of the stock,

  • For a partnership, the controlling organization owns more than 50% of the profits or capital interests, or

  • For any other organization, the controlling organization owns more than 50% of the beneficial interest.

For this purpose, constructive ownership of stock (determined under section 318) or other interests is taken into account.

  As a result, an exempt parent organization is treated as controlling any subsidiary in which it holds more than 50% of the voting power or value, whether directly (as in the case of a first-tier subsidiary) or indirectly (as in the case of a second-tier subsidiary).

Income from property financed with qualified 501(c)(3) bonds.

If any part of a 501(c)(3) organization's property financed with qualified 501(c)(3) bonds is used in a trade or business of any person other than a section 501(c)(3) organization or a governmental unit, and such use is not consistent with the requirements for qualified 501(c)(3) bonds under section 145, the section 501(c)(3) organization is considered to have received unrelated business income in the amount of the greater of the actual rental income or the fair rental value of the property for the period it is used. No deduction is allowed for interest on the private activity bond. See sections 150(b)(3) and (c) for more information.

Disposition of property received from taxable subsidiary and used in unrelated business.

A taxable 80%-owned subsidiary corporation of one or more tax-exempt entities is generally subject to tax on a distribution in liquidation of its assets to its exempt parent (or parents). The assets are treated as if sold at fair market value.

Tax-exempt entities include organizations described in sections 501(a), 529, and 115, charitable remainder trusts, U.S. and foreign governments, Indian tribal governments, international organizations, and similar non-taxable organizations.

A taxable corporation that transfers substantially all of its assets to a tax-exempt entity in a transaction that otherwise qualifies for nonrecognition treatment must recognize gain on the transaction as if it sold the assets at fair market value. However, such a transfer is not taxable if it qualifies as a like-kind exchange under section 1031 or an involuntary conversion under section 1033. In such a case the built-in appreciation is preserved in the replacement property received in the transaction.

A corporation that changes status from taxable to tax-exempt is treated generally as if it transferred all of its assets to a tax-exempt entity immediately before the change in status (thus subjecting it to the tax on a deemed sale for fair market value). This rule does not apply where the taxable corporation becomes exempt within 3 years of formation, or had previously been exempt and within several years (generally a period of 3 years) regains exemption, unless the principal purpose of the transactions is to avoid the tax on the change in status.

In the transactions described above, the taxable event is deferred for property that the tax-exempt entity immediately uses in an unrelated business. If the parent later disposes of the property, then any gain (not in excess of the amount not recognized) is included in the parent's unrelated business taxable income. If there is partial use of the assets in unrelated business, then there is partial recognition of gain or loss. Property is treated as disposed if the tax-exempt entity no longer uses it in an unrelated business.

Losses on the transfer of assets to a tax-exempt entity are disallowed if part of a plan with a principal purpose of recognizing losses.

Income From Debt-Financed Property

Investment income that would otherwise be excluded from an exempt organization's unrelated business taxable income (see Exclusions under Income earlier) must be included to the extent it is derived from debt-financed property. The amount of income included is proportionate to the debt on the property.

Debt-Financed Property

In general, the term “debt-financed property” means any property held to produce income (including gain from its disposition) for which there is an acquisition indebtedness at any time during the tax year (or during the 12-month period before the date of the property's disposal, if it was disposed of during the tax year). It includes rental real estate, tangible personal property, and corporate stock.

Acquisition Indebtedness

For any debt-financed property, acquisition indebtedness is the unpaid amount of debt incurred by an organization:

  1. When acquiring or improving the property,

  2. Before acquiring or improving the property if the debt would not have been incurred except for the acquisition or improvement, and

  3. After acquiring or improving the property if:

    1. The debt would not have been incurred except for the acquisition or improvement, and

    2. Incurring the debt was reasonably foreseeable when the property was acquired or improved.

The facts and circumstances of each situation determine whether incurring a debt was reasonably foreseeable. That an organization may not have foreseen the need to incur a debt before acquiring or improving the property does not necessarily mean that incurring the debt later was not reasonably foreseeable.

Example 1.

Y, an exempt scientific organization, mortgages its laboratory to replace working capital used in remodeling an office building that Y rents to an insurance company for nonexempt purposes. The debt is acquisition indebtedness since the debt, though incurred after the improvement of the office building, would not have been incurred without the improvement, and the debt was reasonably foreseeable when, to make the improvement, Y reduced its working capital below the amount necessary to continue current operations.

Example 2.

X, an exempt organization, forms a partnership with A and B. The partnership agreement provides that all three partners will share equally in the profits of the partnership, each will invest $3 million, and X will be a limited partner. X invests $1 million of its own funds in the partnership and $2 million of borrowed funds.

The partnership buys as its sole asset an office building that it leases to the public for nonexempt purposes. The office building costs the partnership $24 million, of which $15 million is borrowed from Y bank. The loan is secured by a mortgage on the entire office building. By agreement with Y bank, X is not personally liable for payment of the mortgage.

X has acquisition indebtedness of $7 million. This amount is the $2 million debt X incurred in acquiring the partnership interest, plus the $5 million that is X's allocable part of the partnership's debt incurred to buy the office building (one-third of $15 million).

Example 3.

A labor union advanced funds, from existing resources and without any borrowing, to its tax-exempt subsidiary title-holding company. The subsidiary used the funds to pay a debt owed to a third party that was previously incurred in acquiring two income-producing office buildings. Neither the union nor the subsidiary has incurred any further debt in acquiring or improving the property. The union has no outstanding debt on the property. The subsidiary's debt to the union is represented by a demand note on which the subsidiary makes payments whenever it has the available cash. The books of the union and the subsidiary list the outstanding debt as interorganizational indebtedness.

Although the subsidiary's books show a debt to the union, it is not the type subject to the debt-financed property rules. In this situation, the very nature of the title-holding company and the parent-subsidiary relationship shows this debt to be merely a matter of accounting between the two organizations. Accordingly, the debt is not acquisition indebtedness.

Change in use of property.   If an organization converts property that is not debt-financed property to a use that results in its treatment as debt-financed property, the outstanding principal debt on the property is thereafter treated as acquisition indebtedness.

Example.

Four years ago a university borrowed funds to acquire an apartment building as housing for married students. Last year, the university rented the apartment building to the public for nonexempt purposes. The outstanding principal debt becomes acquisition indebtedness as of the time the building was first rented to the public.

Continued debt.   If an organization sells property and, without paying off debt that would be acquisition indebtedness if the property were debt-financed property, buys property that is otherwise debt-financed property, the unpaid debt is acquisition indebtedness for the new property. This is true even if the original property was not debt-financed property.

Example.

To house its administration offices, an exempt organization bought a building using $600,000 of its own funds and $400,000 of borrowed funds secured by a pledge of its securities. The office building was not debt-financed property. The organization later sold the building for $1 million without repaying the $400,000 loan. It used the sale proceeds to buy an apartment building it rents to the general public. The unpaid debt of $400,000 is acquisition indebtedness with respect to the apartment building.

Property acquired subject to mortgage or lien.   If property (other than certain gifts, bequests, and devises) is acquired subject to a mortgage, the outstanding principal debt secured by that mortgage is treated as acquisition indebtedness even if the organization did not assume or agree to pay the debt.

Example.

An exempt organization paid $50,000 for real property valued at $150,000 and subject to a $100,000 mortgage. The $100,000 of outstanding principal debt is acquisition indebtedness, as though the organization had borrowed $100,000 to buy the property.

Liens similar to a mortgage.   In determining acquisition indebtedness, a lien similar to a mortgage is treated as a mortgage. A lien is similar to a mortgage if title to property is encumbered by the lien for a creditor's benefit. However, when state law provides that a lien for taxes or assessments attaches to property before the taxes or assessments become due and payable, the lien is not treated as a mortgage until after the taxes or assessments have become due and payable and the organization has had an opportunity to pay the lien in accordance with state law. Liens similar to mortgages include (but are not limited to):
  1. Deeds of trust,

  2. Conditional sales contracts,

  3. Chattel mortgages,

  4. Security interests under the Uniform Commercial Code,

  5. Pledges,

  6. Agreements to hold title in escrow, and

  7. Liens for taxes or assessments (other than those discussed earlier in this paragraph).

Exception for property acquired by gift, bequest, or devise.   If property subject to a mortgage is acquired by gift, bequest, or devise, the outstanding principal debt secured by the mortgage is not treated as acquisition indebtedness during the 10-year period following the date the organization receives the property. However, this applies to a gift of property only if:

  
  1. The mortgage was placed on the property more than 5 years before the date the organization received it, and

  2. The donor held the property for more than 5 years before the date the organization received it.

  This exception does not apply if an organization assumes and agrees to pay all or part of the debt secured by the mortgage or makes any payment for the equity in the property owned by the donor or decedent (other than a payment under an annuity obligation excluded from the definition of acquisition indebtedness, discussed under Debt That Is Not Acquisition Indebtedness, later).

  Whether an organization has assumed and agreed to pay all or part of a debt in order to acquire the property is determined by the facts and circumstances of each situation.

Modifying existing debt.   Extending, renewing, or refinancing an existing debt is considered a continuation of that debt to the extent its outstanding principal does not increase. When the principal of the modified debt is more than the outstanding principal of the old debt, the excess is treated as a separate debt.

Extension or renewal.   In general, any modification or substitution of the terms of a debt by an organization is considered an extension or renewal of the original debt, rather than the start of a new one, to the extent that the outstanding principal of the debt does not increase.

  The following are examples of acts resulting in the extension or renewal of a debt:
  1. Substituting liens to secure the debt,

  2. Substituting obligees whether or not with the organization's consent,

  3. Renewing, extending, or accelerating the payment terms of the debt, and

  4. Adding, deleting, or substituting sureties or other primary or secondary obligors.

Debt increase.   If the outstanding principal of a modified debt is more than that of the unmodified debt, and only part of the refinanced debt is acquisition indebtedness, the payments on the refinanced debt must be allocated between the old debt and the excess.

Example.

An organization has an outstanding principal debt of $500,000 that is treated as acquisition indebtedness. The organization borrows another $100,000, which is not acquisition indebtedness, from the same lender, resulting in a $600,000 note for the total obligation. A payment of $60,000 on the total obligation would reduce the acquisition indebtedness by $50,000 ($60,000 x $500,000/$600,000) and the excess debt by $10,000.

Debt That Is Not Acquisition Indebtedness

Certain debt and obligations are not acquisition indebtedness. These include the following.

  • Debts incurred in performing an exempt purpose.

  • Annuity obligations.

  • Securities loans.

  • Real property debts of qualified organizations.

  • Certain Federal financing.

Debt incurred in performing exempt purpose.   A debt incurred in performing an exempt purpose is not acquisition indebtedness. For example, acquisition indebtedness does not include the debt an exempt credit union incurs in accepting deposits from its members or the debt an exempt organization incurs in accepting payments from its members to provide them with insurance, retirement, or other benefits.

Annuity obligation.   The organization's obligation to pay an annuity is not acquisition indebtedness if the annuity meets all the following requirements.
  1. It must be the sole consideration (other than a mortgage on property acquired by gift, bequest, or devise that meets the exception discussed under Property acquired subject to mortgage or lien, earlier in this chapter) issued in exchange for the property received.

  2. Its present value, at the time of exchange, must be less than 90% of the value of the prior owner's equity in the property received.

  3. It must be payable over the lives of either one or two individuals living when issued.

  4. It must be payable under a contract that:

    1. Does not guarantee a minimum nor specify a maximum number of payments, and

    2. Does not provide for any adjustment of the amount of the annuity payments based on the income received from the transferred property or any other property.

Example.

X, an exempt organization, receives property valued at $100,000 from donor A, a male age 60. In return X promises to pay A $6,000 a year for the rest of A's life, with neither a minimum nor maximum number of payments specified. The amounts paid under the annuity are not dependent on the income derived from the property transferred to X. The present value of this annuity is $81,156, determined from IRS valuation tables. Since the value of the annuity is less than 90 percent of A's $100,000 equity in the property transferred and the annuity meets all the other requirements just discussed, the obligation to make annuity payments is not acquisition indebtedness.

Securities loans.   Acquisition indebtedness does not include an obligation of the exempt organization to return collateral security provided by the borrower of the exempt organization's securities under a securities loan agreement (discussed under Exclusions earlier in this chapter). This transaction is not treated as the borrowing by the exempt organization of the collateral furnished by the borrower (usually a broker) of the securities.

  However, if the exempt organization incurred debt to buy the loaned securities, any income from the securities (including income from lending the securities) would be debt-financed income. For this purpose, any payments because of the securities are considered to be from the securities loaned and not from collateral security or the investment of collateral security from the loans. Any deductions that are directly connected with collateral security for the loan, or with the investment of collateral security, are considered deductions that are directly connected with the securities loaned.

Short sales.    Acquisition indebtedness does not include the “borrowing” of stock from a broker to sell the stock short. Although a short sale creates an obligation, it does not create debt.

Real property debts of qualified organizations.   In general, acquisition indebtedness does not include debt incurred by a qualified organization in acquiring or improving any real property. A qualified organization is:
  1. A qualified retirement plan under section 401(a),

  2. An educational organization described in section 170(b)(1)(A)(ii) and certain of its affiliated support organizations,

  3. A title-holding company described in section 501(c)(25), or

  4. A retirement income account described in section 403(b)(9) in acquiring or improving real property in tax years beginning on or after August 17, 2006.

  

  This exception from acquisition indebtedness does not apply in the following six situations.
  1. The acquisition price is not a fixed amount determined as of the date of the acquisition or the completion of the improvement. However, the terms of a sales contract may provide for price adjustments due to customary closing adjustments such as prorating property taxes. The contract also may provide for a price adjustment if it is for a fixed amount dependent upon subsequent resolution of limited, external contingencies such as zoning approvals, title clearances, and the removal of easements. These conditions in the contract will not cause the price to be treated as an undetermined amount. However, see Note 1 at the end of this list.

  2. Any debt or other amount payable for the debt, or the time for making any payment, depends, in whole or in part, upon any revenue, income, or profits derived from the real property. However, see Note 1 at the end of this list.

  3. The real property is leased back to the seller of the property or to a person related to the seller as described in section 267(b) or section 707(b). However, see Note 2 at the end of this list.

  4. The real property is acquired by a qualified retirement plan from, or after its acquisition is leased by a qualified retirement plan to, a related person. however, see Note 2 at the end of this list. For this purpose, a related person is:

    1. An employer who has employees covered by the plan,

    2. An owner with at least a 50% interest in an employer described in (a),

    3. A member of the family of any individual described in (a) or (b),

    4. A corporation, partnership, trust, or estate in which a person described in (a), (b), or (c) has at least a 50% interest, or

    5. An officer, director, 10% or more shareholder, or highly compensated employee of a person described in (a), (b), or (d).

  5. The seller, a person related to the seller (under section 267(b) or section 707(b)), or a person related to a qualified retirement plan (as described in (4)) provides financing for the transaction on other than commercially reasonable terms.

  6. The real property is held by a partnership in which an exempt organization is a partner (along with taxable entities), and the principal purpose of any allocation to an exempt organization is to avoid tax. This generally applies to property placed in service after 1986. For more information, see section 514(c)(9)(B)(vi) and section 514(c)(9)(E).

Note 1.

Qualifying sales by financial institutions of foreclosure property or certain conservatorship or receivership property are not included in (1) or (2) and, therefore, do not give rise to acquisition indebtedness. For more information, see section 514(c)(9)(H).

Note 2.

For purposes of (3) and (4), small leases are disregarded. A small lease is one that covers no more than 25% of the leasable floor space in the property and has commercially reasonable terms.

Certain federal financing.   Acquisition indebtedness does not include an obligation, to the extent it is insured by the Federal Housing Administration, to finance the purchase, rehabilitation, or construction of housing for low or moderate income people.

In addition, acquisition indebtedness does not include indebtedness incurred by a small business investment company licensed under the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 after October 22, 2004, if such indebtedness is evidenced by a debenture issued by such company and held or guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. However, this provision does not apply to any small business investment company during any period that any organization which is exempt from tax (other than a governmental unit) owns more than 25% of the capital or profits interest in such company, or organizations which are exempt from tax (including governmental agencies other than any agency or instrumentality of the United States) own, in the aggregate, 50% or more of the capital or profits interest in such company.

Exceptions to Debt-Financed Property

Certain property is excepted from treatment as debt-financed property.

Property related to exempt purposes.   If substantially all (85% or more) of the use of any property is substantially related to an organization's exempt purposes, the property is not treated as debt-financed property. Related use does not include a use related solely to the organization's need for income, or its use of the profits. The extent to which property is used for a particular purpose is determined on the basis of all the facts. They may include:
  1. A comparison of the time the property is used for exempt purposes with the total time the property is used,

  2. A comparison of the part of the property that is used for exempt purposes with the part used for all purposes, or

  3. Both of these comparisons.

  If less than 85% of the use of any property is devoted to an organization's exempt purposes, only that part of the property used to further the organization's exempt purposes is not treated as debt-financed property.

Property used in an unrelated trade or business.   To the extent that the gross income from any property is treated as income from the conduct of an unrelated trade or business, the property is not treated as debt-financed property. However, any gain on the disposition of the property not included in income from an unrelated trade or business is includible as gross income derived from, or on account of, debt-financed property.

  The rules for debt-financed property do not apply to rents from personal property, certain passive income from controlled organizations, and other amounts that are required by other rules to be included in computing unrelated business taxable income.

Property used in research activities.   Property is not treated as debt-financed property when it produces gross income derived from research activities otherwise excluded from the unrelated trade or business tax. See Income from research under Exclusions, earlier in this chapter.

Property used in certain excluded activities.   Debt-financed property does not include property used in a trade or business that is excluded from the definition of “unrelated trade or business” because:
  1. It has a volunteer workforce,

  2. It is conducted for the convenience of its members, or

  3. It consists of selling donated merchandise.

See Excluded Trade or Business Activities in chapter 3.

Related exempt uses.   Property owned by an exempt organization and used by a related exempt organization, or by an exempt organization related to that related exempt organization, is not treated as debt-financed property when the property is used by either organization to further its exempt purpose. Furthermore, property is not treated as debt-financed property when a related exempt organization uses it for research activities or certain excluded activities, as described above.

Related organizations.   An exempt organization is related to another exempt organization only if:
  1. One organization is an exempt holding company and the other receives profits derived by the exempt holding company,

  2. One organization controls the other as discussed under Income From Controlled Organizations earlier in this chapter,

  3. More than 50% of the members of one organization are members of the other, or

  4. Each organization is a local organization directly affiliated with a common state, national, or international organization that also is exempt.

Medical clinics.   Real property is not debt-financed property if it is leased to a medical clinic and the lease is entered into primarily for purposes related to the lessor's exercise or performance of its exempt purpose.

Example.

An exempt hospital leases all of its clinic space to an unincorporated association of physicians and surgeons. They, under the lease, agree to provide all of the hospital's outpatient medical and surgical services and to train all of the hospital's residents and interns. In this case the rents received are not unrelated debt-financed income.

Life income contract.   If an individual transfers property to a trust or a fund with the income payable to that individual or other individuals for a period not to exceed the life of the individual or individuals, and with the remainder payable to an exempt charitable organization, the property is not treated as debt-financed property. This exception applies only where the payments to the individual are not the proceeds of a sale or exchange of the property transferred.

Neighborhood land rule.   If an organization acquires real property with the intention of using the land for exempt purposes within 10 years, it will not be treated as debt-financed property if it is in the neighborhood of other property that the organization uses for exempt purposes. This rule applies only if the intent to demolish any existing structures and use the land for exempt purposes within 10 years is not abandoned.

  Property is considered in the neighborhood of property that an organization owns and uses for its exempt purposes if it is contiguous with the exempt purpose property or would be contiguous except for an intervening road, street, railroad, stream, or similar property. If it is not contiguous with the exempt purpose property, it still may be in the same neighborhood if it is within 1 mile of the exempt purpose property and if the facts and circumstances make it unreasonable to acquire the contiguous property.

  Some issues to consider in determining whether acquiring contiguous property is unreasonable include the availability of land and the intended future use of the land.

Example.

A university tries to buy land contiguous to its present campus, but cannot do so because the owners either refuse to sell or ask unreasonable prices. The nearest land of sufficient size and utility is a block away from the campus. The university buys this land. Under these circumstances, the contiguity requirement is unreasonable and not applicable. The land bought would be considered neighborhood land.

Exceptions.   For all organizations other than churches and conventions or associations of churches, discussed later under Churches, the neighborhood land rule does not apply to property after the 10 years following its acquisition. Further, the rule applies after the first 5 years only if the organization satisfies the IRS that use of the land for exempt purposes is reasonably certain before the 10-year period expires. The organization need not show binding contracts to satisfy this requirement; but it must have a definite plan detailing a specific improvement and a completion date, and it must show some affirmative action toward the fulfillment of the plan. This information should be forwarded to the IRS for a ruling at least 90 days before the end of the 5th year after acquisition of the land. Send information to:

Internal Revenue Service 
Commissioner, TE/GE 
Attention: T:EO:RA 
P.O. Box 120, Ben Franklin Station 
Washington, DC 20044

The IRS may grant a reasonable extension of time for requesting the ruling if the organization can show good cause. For more information, contact the IRS.

Actual use.   If the neighborhood land rule does not apply because the acquired land is not in the neighborhood of other land used for an organization's exempt purposes, or because the organization fails to establish after the first 5 years of the 10-year period that the property will be used for exempt purposes, but the land is used eventually by the organization for its exempt purposes within the 10-year period, the property is not treated as debt-financed property for any period before the conversion.

Limits.   The neighborhood land rule or actual use rule applies to any structure on the land when acquired, or to the land occupied by the structure, only so long as the intended future use of the land in furtherance of the organization's exempt purpose requires that the structure be demolished or removed in order to use the land in this manner. Thus, during the first 5 years after acquisition (and for later years if there is a favorable ruling), improved property is not debt financed so long as the organization does not abandon its intent to demolish the existing structures and use the land in furtherance of its exempt purpose. If an actual demolition of these structures occurs, the use made of the land need not be the one originally intended as long as its use furthers the organization's exempt purpose.

  In addition to this limit, the neighborhood land rule and the actual use rule do not apply to structures erected on land after its acquisition. They do not apply to property subject to a business lease (as defined in section 1.514(f)-1 of the regulations) whether an organization acquired the property subject to the lease, or whether it executed the lease after acquisition. A business lease is any lease, with certain exceptions, of real property for a term of more than 5 years by an exempt organization if at the close of the lessor's tax year there is a business lease (acquisition) indebtedness on that property.

Refund of taxes.   When the neighborhood land rule does not initially apply, but the land is used eventually for exempt purposes, a refund or credit of any overpaid taxes will be allowed for a prior tax year as a result of the satisfaction of the actual use rule. A claim must be filed within 1 year after the close of the tax year in which the actual use rule is satisfied. Interest rates on any overpayment are governed by the regulations.

Example.

In January 2001, Y, a calendar year exempt organization, acquired real property contiguous to other property that Y uses in furtherance of its exempt purpose. Assume that without the neighborhood land rule, the property would be debt-financed property. Y did not satisfy the IRS by January 2006 that the existing structure would be demolished and the land would be used in furtherance of its exempt purpose. From 2006 until the property is converted to an exempt use, the income from the property is subject to the tax on unrelated business income. During July 2010, Y will demolish the existing structure on the land and begin using the land in furtherance of its exempt purpose. At that time, Y can file claims for refund for the open years 2007 through 2009.

Further, Y also can file a claim for refund for 2006, even though a claim for that tax year may be barred by the statute of limitations, provided the claim is filed before the close of 2011.

Churches.   The neighborhood land rule as described here also applies to churches, or a convention or association of churches, but with two differences:
  1. The period during which the organization must demonstrate the intent to use acquired property for exempt purposes is increased from 10 to 15 years, and

  2. Acquired property does not have to be in the neighborhood of other property used by the organization for exempt purposes.

  Thus, if a church or association or convention of churches acquires real property for the primary purpose of using the land in the exercise or performance of its exempt purpose, within 15 years after the time of acquisition, the property is not treated as debt-financed property as long as the organization does not abandon its intent to use the land in this manner within the 15-year period.

  This exception for a church or association or convention of churches does not apply to any property after the 15-year period expires. Further, this rule will apply after the first 5 years of the 15-year period only if the church or association or convention of churches establishes to the satisfaction of the IRS that use of the acquired land in furtherance of the organization's exempt purpose is reasonably certain before the 15-year period expires.

  If a church or association or convention of churches cannot establish after the first 5 years of the 15-year period that use of acquired land for its exempt purpose is reasonably certain within the 15-year period, but the land is in fact converted to an exempt use within the 15-year period, the land is not treated as debt-financed property for any period before the conversion.

  The same rule for demolition or removal of structures as discussed earlier in this chapter under Limits applies to a church or an association or a convention of churches.

Computation of Debt-Financed Income

For each debt-financed property, the unrelated debt-financed income is a percentage (not over 100%) of the total gross income derived during a tax year from the property. This percentage is the same percentage as the average acquisition indebtedness with respect to the property for the tax year of the property's average adjusted basis for the year (the debt/basis percentage). Thus, the formula for deriving unrelated debt-financed income is:

  average acquisition 
indebtedness 
 
x gross income 
from 
debt-financed 
property
  average adjusted basis    

Example.

X, an exempt trade association, owns an office building that is debt-financed property. The building produced $10,000 of gross rental income last year. The average adjusted basis of the building during that year was $100,000, and the average acquisition indebtedness with respect to the building was $50,000. Accordingly, the debt/basis percentage was 50% (the ratio of $50,000 to $100,000). Therefore, the unrelated debt-financed income with respect to the building was $5,000 (50% of $10,000).

Gain or loss from sale or other disposition of property.   If an organization sells or otherwise disposes of debt-financed property, it must include, in computing unrelated business taxable income, a percentage (not over 100%) of any gain or loss. The percentage is that of the highest acquisition indebtedness with respect to the property during the 12-month period preceding the date of disposition, in relation to the property's average adjusted basis.

  The tax on this percentage of gain or loss is determined according to the usual rules for capital gains and losses. These amounts may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. (See Alternative minimum tax at the beginning of chapter 2.)

Debt-financed property exchanged for subsidiary's stock.   A transfer of debt-financed property by a tax-exempt organization to its wholly owned taxable subsidiary, in exchange for additional stock in the subsidiary, is not considered a gain subject to the tax on unrelated business income.

Example.   A tax-exempt hospital wants to build a new hospital complex to replace its present old and obsolete facility. The most desirable location for the new hospital complex is a site occupied by an apartment complex. Several years ago the hospital bought the land and apartment complex, taking title subject to a first mortgage already on the premises.

  For valid business reasons, the hospital proposed to exchange the land and apartment complex, subject to the mortgage on the property, for additional stock in its wholly owned subsidiary. The exchange satisfied all the requirements of section 351(a).

  The transfer of appreciated debt-financed property from the tax-exempt hospital to its wholly owned subsidiary in exchange for stock did not result in a gain subject to the tax on unrelated business income.

Gain or loss on disposition of certain brownfield property.   Gain or loss from the qualifying sale, exchange, or other disposition of a qualifying brownfield property (as defined in section 512(b)(19)(C)), which was acquired by the organization after December 31, 2004, is excluded from unrelated business taxable income and is excepted from the debt-financed rules for such property. See sections 512(b)(19) and 514(b)(1)(E).

Average acquisition indebtedness.   This is the average amount of outstanding principal debt during the part of the tax year that the organization holds the property.

  Average acquisition indebtedness is computed by determining how much principal debt is outstanding on the first day in each calendar month during the tax year that the organization holds the property, adding these amounts, and dividing the sum by the number of months during the year that the organization held the property. Part of a month is treated as a full month in computing average acquisition indebtedness.

Indeterminate price.   If an organization acquires or improves property for an indeterminate price (that is, neither the price nor the debt is certain), the unadjusted basis and the initial acquisition indebtedness are determined as follows, unless the organization obtains the IRS's consent to use another method. The unadjusted basis is the fair market value of the property or improvement on the date of acquisition or completion of the improvement. The initial acquisition indebtedness is the fair market value of the property or improvement on the date of acquisition or completion of the improvement, less any down payment or other initial payment applied to the principal debt.

Average adjusted basis.   The average adjusted basis of debt-financed property is the average of the adjusted basis of the property as of the first day and as of the last day that the organization holds the property during the tax year.

  Determining the average adjusted basis of the debt-financed property is not affected if the organization was exempt from tax for prior tax years. The basis of the property must be adjusted properly for the entire period after the property was acquired. As an example, adjustment must be made for depreciation during all prior tax years whether or not the organization was tax-exempt. If only part of the depreciation allowance may be taken into account in computing the percentage of deductions allowable for each debt-financed property, that does not affect the amount of the depreciation adjustment to use in determining average adjusted basis.

Basis for debt-financed property acquired in corporate liquidation.   If an exempt organization acquires debt-financed property in a complete or partial liquidation of a corporation in exchange for its stock, the organization's basis in the property is the same as it would be in the hands of the transferor corporation. This basis is increased by the gain recognized to the transferor corporation upon the distribution and by the amount of any gain that, because of the distribution, is includible in the organization's gross income as unrelated debt-financed income.

Computation of debt/basis percentage.   The following example shows how to compute the debt/basis percentage by first determining the average acquisition indebtedness and average adjusted basis.

Example.

On July 7, an exempt organization buys an office building for $510,000 using $300,000 of borrowed funds. The organization files its return on a calendar year basis. During the year the only adjustment to basis is $20,000 for depreciation. Starting July 28, the organization pays $20,000 each month on the mortgage principal plus interest. The debt/basis percentage for the year is calculated as follows:

Month Debt on first day of each month property is held
July $300,000
August 280,000
September 260,000
October 240,000
November 220,000
December 200,000
Total $1,500,000
Average acquisition  
indebtedness: 
$1,500,000 ÷ 6 months
$250,000
  Basis
As of July 7 $510,000
As of December 31 490,000
Total $1,000,000
Average adjusted basis: 
$1,000,000 ÷ 2
$500,000
Debt/basis percentage  
$250,000 ÷ $500,000 = 50%

Deductions for Debt-Financed Property

The deductions allowed for each debt-financed property are determined by applying the debt/basis percentage to the sum of allowable deductions.

The allowable deductions are those directly connected with the debt-financed property or with the income from it (including the dividends-received deduction), except that:

  1. The allowable deductions are subject to the modifications for computation of the unrelated business taxable income (discussed earlier in this chapter), and

  2. The depreciation deduction, if allowable, is computed only by use of the straight-line method.

To be directly connected with debt-financed property or with the income from it, a deductible item must have proximate and primary relationship to the property or income. Expenses, depreciation, and similar items attributable solely to the property qualify for deduction, to the extent they meet the requirements of an allowable deduction.

For example, if the straight-line depreciation allowance for an office building is $10,000 a year, an organization can deduct depreciation of $10,000 if the entire building is debt-financed property. However, if only half of the building is debt-financed property, the depreciation allowed as a deduction is $5,000.

Capital losses.   If a sale or exchange of debt-financed property results in a capital loss, the loss taken into account in the tax year in which the loss arises is computed as provided earlier. See Gain or loss from sale or other disposition of property under Computation of Debt-Financed Income, earlier.

  If any part of the allowable capital loss is not taken into account in the current tax year, it may be carried back or carried over to another tax year without application of the debt/basis percentage for that year.

Example.

X, an exempt educational organization, owned debt-financed securities that were capital assets. Last year, X sold the securities at a loss of $20,000. The debt/basis percentage for computing the loss from the sale of the securities is 40%. Thus, X sustained a capital loss of $8,000 (40% of $20,000) on the sale of the securities. Last year and the preceding 3 tax years, X had no other capital transactions. Under these circumstances, the $8,000 of capital loss may be carried over to succeeding years without further application of the debt/basis percentage.

Net operating loss.   If, after applying the debt/basis percentage to the income from debt-financed property and the deductions directly connected with this income, the deductions exceed the income, an organization has an NOL for the tax year. This amount may be carried back or carried over to other tax years in the same manner as any other NOL of an organization with unrelated business taxable income. (For a discussion of the NOL deduction, see Modifications under Deductions earlier in this chapter.) However, the debt/basis percentage is not applied in those other tax years to determine the deductions that may be taken in those years.

Example.

Last year, Y, an exempt organization, received $20,000 of rent from a debt-financed building that it owns. Y had no other unrelated business taxable income for the year. The deductions directly connected with this building were property taxes of $5,000, interest of $5,000 on the acquisition indebtedness, and salary of $15,000 to the building manager. The debt/basis percentage with respect to the building was 50%. Under these circumstances, Y must take into account, in computing its unrelated business taxable income, $10,000 (50% of $20,000) of income and $12,500 (50% of $25,000) of the deductions directly connected with that income.

Thus, Y sustained an NOL of $2,500 ($10,000 of income less $12,500 of deductions), which may be carried back or carried over to other tax years without further application of the debt/basis percentage.

Allocation Rules

When only part of the property is debt-financed property, proper allocation of the basis, debt, income, and deductions with respect to the property must be made to determine how much income or gain derived from the property to treat as unrelated debt-financed income.

Example.

X, an exempt college, owns a four-story office building that it bought with borrowed funds (assumed to be acquisition indebtedness). During the year, the lower two stories of the building were used to house computers that X uses for administrative purposes. The two upper stories were rented to the public and used for nonexempt purposes.

The gross income X derived from the building was $6,000, all of which was attributable to the rents paid by tenants. The expenses were $2,000 and were equally allocable to each use of the building. The average adjusted basis of the building for the year was $100,000 and the average acquisition indebtedness for the year was $60,000.

Since the two lower stories were used for exempt purposes, only the upper half of the building is debt-financed property. Consequently, only the rental income and the deductions directly connected with this income are taken into account in computing unrelated business taxable income. The part taken into account is determined by multiplying the $6,000 of rental income and $1,000 of deductions directly connected with the rental income by the debt/basis percentage.

The debt/basis percentage is the ratio of the allocable part of the average acquisition indebtedness to the allocable part of the property's average adjusted basis: that is, in this case, the ratio of $30,000 (one-half of $60,000) to $50,000 (one-half of $100,000). Thus, the debt/basis percentage for the year is 60% (the ratio of $30,000 to $50,000).

Under these circumstances, X must include net rental income of $3,000 in its unrelated business taxable income for the year, computed as follows:

Rental income treated as gross income  
from an unrelated trade or business (60% of $6,000)
$3,600
Less the allowable portion of  
deductions directly connected with that income (60% of $1,000)
600
Net rental income included by X in  
computing its unrelated business taxable income from debt-financed property.
$3,000

How to Get Tax Help

Internet.

Phone.

Mail.

DVD for tax products.

You can get help with unresolved tax issues, order free publications and forms, ask tax questions, and get information from the IRS in several ways. By selecting the method that is best for you, you will have quick and easy access to tax help.

Contacting your Taxpayer Advocate.    The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS. We help taxpayers who are experiencing economic harm, such as not being able to provide necessities like housing, transportation, or food; taxpayers who are seeking help in resolving tax problems with the IRS; and those who believe that an IRS system or procedure is not working as it should. Here are seven things every taxpayer should know about TAS:
  • The Taxpayer Advocate Service is your voice at the IRS.

  • Our service is free, confidential, and tailored to meet your needs.

  • You may be eligible for our help if you have tried to resolve your tax problem through normal IRS channels and have gotten nowhere, or you believe an IRS procedure just isn't working as it should.

  • We help taxpayers whose problems are causing financial difficulty or significant cost, including the cost of professional representation. This includes businesses as well as individuals.

  • Our employees know the IRS and how to navigate it. If you qualify for our help, we'll assign your case to an advocate who will listen to your problem, help you understand what needs to be done to resolve it, and stay with you every step of the way until your problem is resolved.

  • We have at least one local taxpayer advocate in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. You can call your local advocate, whose number is in your phone book, in Pub. 1546, Taxpayer Advocate Service—Your Voice at the IRS, and on our website at www.irs.gov/advocate. You can also call our toll-free line at 1-877-777-4778 or TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059.

  • You can learn about your rights and responsibilities as a taxpayer by visiting our online tax toolkit at www.taxtoolkit.irs.gov. You can get updates on hot tax topics by visiting our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/tasnta and our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/YourVoiceAtIRS, or by following our tweets at www.twitter.com/YourVoiceAtIRS.

You can access the IRS website at IRS.gov 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to: 

  • Download forms, including talking tax forms, instructions and publications.

  • Order IRS products online.

  • Research your tax questions online.

  • Search publications online by topic or keyword.

  • Use the online Internal Revenue Code, Regulations, or other official guidance.

  • View Internal Revenue Bulletins (IRBs) published in the last few years.

  • Sign up to receive local and national tax news by email.

Many services are available by phone.  

  • Ordering forms, instructions, and publications. Call 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676) to order current-year forms, instructions, and publications, and prior-year forms and instructions. You should receive your order within 10 days.

  • TTY/TDD equipment. If you have access to TTY/TDD equipment, call 1-800-829-4059 to ask tax questions or to order forms and publications.

You can send your order for forms, instructions, and publications to the address below. You should receive a response within 10 days after your request is received. 

Internal Revenue Service 
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway 
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613

You can order Publication 1796, IRS Tax Products DVD, and obtain: 
 

  • Current-year forms, instructions, and publications.

  • Prior-year forms, instructions, and publications.

  • Tax Map: An electronic research tool and finding aid.

  • Tax law frequently asked questions.

  • Tax Topics from the IRS telephone response system.

  • Internal Revenue Code—Title 26 of the U.S. Code.

  • Fill-in, print, and save features for most tax forms.

  • Internal Revenue Bulletins.

  • Toll-free and email technical support.

  • Two releases during the year.

-The first release will ship the beginning of January 2012.

-The final release will ship the beginning of March 2012.

Purchase the DVD from National Technical Information Service (NTIS) at www.irs.gov/cdorders for $30 (no handling fee) or call 1-877-233-6767 toll free to buy the DVD for $30 (plus a $6 handling fee).


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