Passage of the new federal income tax law in late December 2017 has brought into reality a variety of concerns not-for-profits raised as the bill worked its way through the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. In addition to the increased standard deduction that’s expected to depress charitable giving, the final Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) includes several other provisions that had prompted objections from charities.
Most not-for-profit leaders understand a principal truth of their tax-exempt status: The IRS generally considers any revenue they take in that’s not related to their mission to be unrelated business income (UBI), and that income is subject to tax. Not-for-profits that don’t pay tax on that income face the possibility of back taxes, penalties and interest — and, in extreme cases, the loss of their tax-exempt status.
Many non-profits dream of landing hefty corporate sponsorships to help pay for the costs of a conference, fundraiser, or other costly event. Money from deep pockets is optimal, but you don’t want the IRS to consider the payments “paid advertising”, and thus taxable as unrelated business income.