“Got milk?” This phrase may instantly bring to mind a famous campaign to promote milk consumption. This PR campaign was promoted by a trade association dedicated to—what else—selling milk! How could tax-exempt status belong to a group of businesses? The answer is through Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code, which provides exemption for “business leagues”—commonly known as trade associations—as well as chambers of commerce, real estate boards, boards of trade, and sports leagues. Here are some basics about trade associations.
Encouraging news: Two separate courts recently struck down New Jersey and New York laws requiring mandatory disclosures of donors to nonprofit organizations, affirming First Amendment rights over purported government interests in donor information. These decisions build on both the Trump Administration’s efforts to curtail Section 501(c)(4) donor disclosure requirements and Americans for Prosperity’s ongoing challenge to California’s donor disclosure law applicable to Section 501(c)(3) public charities.
The Trump Administration is back on track with limiting tax-exempt organizations’ disclosure of major donor information, through Form 990’s Schedule B. On September 6, 2019, the U.S. Treasury Department issued a notice in response to the recent judicial invalidation of IRS Revenue Procedure 2018-38, thereby commencing a “notice and comment” period for reinstating such requirements through new government regulations. Once that time period ends, the new donor disclosure restrictions will take effect.