Can a 501(c)(3) nonprofit enter into a business activity in competition with previously established for-profit businesses?
Yes, but you need to be careful. The first question you ought to ask is whether the "business" is an "unrelated" business activity for the 501(c)(3) charity. If it is part of the charitable mission and not an unrelated business, the charity should be able to enter into the business without federal income tax problems. If it is unrelated, it will generate unrelated business taxable income which will be subject to tax. Too much unrelated business activity can cause the charity to lose its exempt status. (See Ready Reference Page "Nonprofits Often Worry About UBIT.") In Pennsylvania, if it is unrelated, it may be subject to being enjoined by a small business with which it competes. (See Ready Reference Page "Act 55 Defines 'Charity' Eligible for Exemption.")
State Charitable Solicitation Statutes: Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask
Charities that seek contributions nationally must typically register in 39 states and the District of Columbia before starting to solicit. Furthermore, for-profit fundraisers are also required to register and file their contracts and other documentation with many states. Since many states are increasing their enforcement efforts to ensure that charities and fundraisers are complying with initial and annual registration requirements, it's important that charities and fundraisers abide by these statutes.
Program materials include an extensive review of the statutes and their provisions, plus a copy of the Uniform Registration Statement for multi-state filings. Purchasers will receive an e-mail receipt that includes a link that will take them to the product download. The download is a pdf file. Learn More
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