Applications for 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Status Declining: Recession or Rule Change?

Applications for 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Status Declining: Recession or Rule Change?

January 23, 2013

Abstract

During the Great Recession, decreases in funding and increases in service request strained public charities to do more with less. While the increase in need might encourage new public charities, the scarcity of resources could have inhibited organizations from entering the sector. According to the IRS Data Book, the IRS received nearly 30 percent fewer applications for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status since the start of the recession in 2007. In 2008, however, the IRS eliminated the advanced ruling process for 501(c)(3) organizations. This brief investigates whether or not this drop in rulings is attributable to the recession or the rule change.

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