Under Section 512(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, nonprofits are subject to tax on gross income, minus directly connected expenses, for activities that constitute an “unrelated trade or business.” The Code offers a three-pronged test for determining whether a particular activity is an “unrelated trade or business.” The activity must be (1) a trade or business that is (2) regularly carried on, and (3) isn’t substantially related to the organization’s exempt purpose. There are many exceptions to what activities qualify as “unrelated trade or business,” including exceptions for volunteer services.
Changes Under 2017 Tax Reform
- Requires requires tax-exempt organizations (EOs) to treat each trade or business activity separately for UBIT purposes*; and
- Subjects certain employer-provided fringe benefits (such as transportation and on-premises gyms and athletic facilities) to unrelated business income tax—which tax-exempt entities are required to pay.
* Whereas under previous law, separate trade and business activities could be used to offset UBIT liability (by offsetting losses with income), under current law, there are fewer opportunities to do so—with the only offsets allowed being between different tax years for the same trade or business activity.
The Council has concerns about the added administrative burden these provisions will place on foundations—especially those which were not previously subject to UBIT.