In Ocean Pines Association, Inc. v. Commissioner, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that a tax-exempt social welfare organization conducted an unrelated business when it operated two parking lots and a beach club limited to members only. The case was not complex, and the outcome was predictable. The court’s opinion, however, illustrates a classic analysis of the distinction between related and unrelated businesses under the UBIT. Continue reading
Speaking for the Obama administration today, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner proposed reducing the highest corporate tax rate from 35% to 28% (25% for manufacturing). The proposal would also do away with some corporate tax deductions and subsidies to compensate for the lost tax revenues. Leading Republican presidential candidates have called for even lower corporate tax rates. Mitt Romney has proposed a 25% top corporate tax rate. Rick Santorum’s plan would reduce the top rate to 17.5%.
How is the possibility of corporate tax reform relevant to exempt organizations? Continue reading
It is no surprise that the IRS has identified UBIT compliance as a priority for 2012. With government funding and private donations decreasing during the recession years, exempt organizations reportedly stepped up unrealted business activities to supply needed revenues. Also, the redesigned Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, effective in 2008, now provides the IRS with information it can use to identify exempt organizations which are engaging in activities that may generate UBTI. Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return, is used to report the UBIT.
In its 2011 Annual Report & 2012 Work Plan, released on February 8, 2012, the Exempt Organizations section of Tax Exempt and Government Entities announced that it would use the information on Form 990 for UBIT compliance to identify organizations that reported unrelated business activities on Form 990 but did not file a Form 990-T. In addition,the IRS proposes to analyze Form 990-T data to develop risk models to identify organizations that consistently report significant gross receipts from unrelated businesses but also report no tax due. Cryptically, the Work Plan also states that the IRS will use its analyses of the Forms 990 and 990-T “in connection with a coming UBIT project.” Continue reading
Whether large or small, exempt organizations need a plan for UBIT compliance. At a minimum, the plan should include:
- Education about the UBIT in general
- Specific direction on business activities the organization already conducts
- Contact person to consult before engaging in new business activities
- Policy to notify the organization’s attorney or accountant regarding proposed new business activities that might generate UBTI Continue reading