The Internal Revenue Service has proposed new regulations that would help Section 501(c)(3) charities and (c)(4) social welfare organizations understand the IRS’ approach to enforcing various restrictions on private inurement, private benefit and excess benefit transactions. (Published in Federal Register, 9/9/05.)
Under existing law, an organization is not exempt under section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) if any of its net earnings inure to the benefit of any person with a personal or private interest in the activities of the organization. This is termed the “private inurement” prohibition, and it is absolute. Furthermore, an organization is not exempt under Section 501(c)(3) if more than an insubstantial part of its activity benefits private individuals, for other than charitable purposes, even if those individuals have no personal interest or involvement in the activities of the organization. This is termed the “private benefit” limitation, and it is measured relative to the total activity of the organization.