Why is the IRS focusing on down payment assistance programs of exempt organizations?
Increasingly, the IRS has found that organizations claiming to be charities are being used to funnel down payment assistance from sellers to buyers through self-serving, circular financing arrangements (seller-funded programs). Typically, there is a direct correlation between the amount of down payment assistance provided to the buyer and the payment received from the seller. Moreover, the seller pays the organization only if the sale closes, and the organization usually charges an additional fee for its services.
Seller-funded programs are operated to benefit sellers who participate. Thus, such organizations are not operated exclusively for an exempt purpose, a requirement of tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.