Your Club as a Business - Incorporation Comparision

Your Club as a Business - Incorporation Comparision

In the article "Your Club as a Business – Legal Status", incorporation options were outlined for incorporating your club as a formal organization complete with articles of incorporation, by-laws, and officers.  In general, for clubs there are two avenues recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as legal structures:  501(c)(3) non-profit organization and 501(c)(7) recreational club organization.  The choice depends on the underlying reason you have formed your club; each has advantages and disadvantages.

The below table outlines the general requirements for 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), 501(c)(6), and 501(c)(7) incorporation options.

501(c)(3)

501(c)(4)

501(c)(6)

501(c)(7)

Organizational requirement

No requirement (or less stringent)

No requirement (or less stringent)

No requirement (or less stringent)

Social activities must be insubstantial

Social activity may be anything less than "primary"

Social activity may be anything less than "primary"

Social activity must be primary; other activities must be less than primary

Legislative activity must be insubstantial, or <20% if election made

No limit on legislative activity as long as it furthers the exempt purpose

No limit on legislative activity as long as it furthers the exempt purpose; legislative expenditures may limit the deductibility of dues

No limit on legislative activity as long as it furthers the exempt purpose

Absolute prohibition against political activity

Political activity permitted, but taxed

Political activity permitted, but taxed

Political activity permitted, but taxed

Must serve public purposes

Can serve community purposes, can be somewhat narrower than (c)(3)

Can serve the business purposes of the members

Serves the social and recreation purposes of members

Donations are deductible as charitable contributions by donors on their tax returns

Donations not deductible as charitable contributions - businesses sometimes deduct as advertising

Donations not deductible as charitable contributions - businesses sometimes deduct as advertising; dues may be deductible as business expense

Donations not deductible as charitable contributions

Eligible for low cost non-profit bulk mailing permit

Not eligible for lowest bulk mail rates

Not eligible for lowest bulk mail rates

Not eligible for lowest bulk mail rates

Must take care to generate enough public support to avoid classification as a private foundation

Not an issue under (c)(4)

Not an issue under (c)(6)

Not an issue under (c)(7)

Exempt from Federal income tax unless the organization has unrelated business income

Exempt from Federal income tax unless the organization has unrelated business income

Exempt from Federal income tax unless the organization has unrelated business income

Exempt from Federal income tax on income derived from members; other income taxed

 

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