26 CFR 1.513-1 - Definition of unrelated trade or business.

TITLE 26 - INTERNAL REVENUE

CHAPTER I - INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

SUBCHAPTER A - INCOME TAX

PART 1 - INCOME TAXES

1.513 - 1 - Definition of unrelated trade or business.

(a) In general. As used in section 512 the term unrelated business taxable income means the gross income derived by an organization from any unrelated trade or business regularly carried on by it, less the deductions and subject to the modifications provided in section 512.

Section 513 specifies with certain exceptions that the phrase unrelated trade or business means, in the case of an organization subject to the tax imposed by section 511, any trade or business the conduct of which is not substantially related (aside from the need of such organization for income or funds or the use it makes of the profits derived) to the exercise or performance by such organization of its charitable, educational, or other purpose or function constituting the basis for its exemption under section 501 (or, in the case of an organization described in section 511(a)(2)(B), to the exercise or performance of any purpose or function described in section 501(c)(3)). (For certain exceptions from this definition, see paragraph (e) of this section. For a special definition of unrelated trade or business applicable to certain trusts, see section 513(b).) Therefore, unless one of the specific exceptions of section 512 or 513 is applicable, gross income of an exempt organization subject to the tax imposed by section 511 is includible in the computation of unrelated business taxable income if: (1) It is income from trade or business; (2) such trade or business is regularly carried on by the organization; and (3) the conduct of such trade or business is not substantially related (other than through the production of funds) to the organization's performance of its exempt functions.

(b) Trade or business. The primary objective of adoption of the unrelated business income tax was to eliminate a source of unfair competition by placing the unrelated business activities of certain exempt organizations upon the same tax basis as the nonexempt business endeavors with which they compete. On the other hand, where an activity does not possess the characteristics of a trade or business within the meaning of section 162, such as when an organization sends out low-cost articles incidental to the solicitation of charitable contributions, the unrelated business income tax does not apply since the organization is not in competition with taxable organizations. However, in general, any activity of a section 511 organization which is carried on for the production of income and which otherwise possesses the characteristics required to constitute trade or business within the meaning of section 162and which, in addition, is notsubstantially related to the performance of exempt functions presents sufficient likelihood of unfair competition to be within the policy of the tax. Accordingly, for purposes of section 513 the term trade or business has the same meaning it has in section 162, and generally includes any activity carried on for the production of income from the sale of goods or performance of services. Thus, the term trade or business in section 513 is not limited to integrated aggregates of assets, activities and good will which comprise businesses for the purposes of certain other provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. Activities of producing or distributing goods or performing services from which a particular amount of gross income is derived do not lose identity as trade or business merely because they are carried on within a larger aggregate of similar activities or within a larger complex of other endeavors which may, or may not, be related to the exempt purposes of the organization. Thus, for example, the regular sale of pharmaceutical supplies to the general public by a hospital pharmacydoes not lose identity as trade or business merely because the pharmacy also furnishes supplies to the hospital and patients of the hospital in accordance with its exempt purposes or in compliance with the terms of section 513(a)(2). Similarly, activities of soliciting, selling, and publishing commercial advertising do not lose identity as a trade or business even though the advertising is published in an exempt organization periodical which contains editorial matter related to the exempt purposes of the organization. However, where an activity carried on for the production of income constitutes an unrelated trade or business, no part of such trade or business shall be excluded from such classification merely because it does not result in profit.

(c) Regularly carried on(1) General principles. In determining whether trade or business from which a particular amount of gross income derives is regularly carried on, within the meaning of section 512, regard must be had to the frequency and continuity with which the activities productive of the income are conducted and the manner in which they are pursued. This requirement must be applied in light of the purpose of the unrelated business income tax to place exempt organization business activities upon the same tax basis as the nonexempt business endeavors with which they compete. Hence, for example, specific business activities of an exempt organization will ordinarily be deemed to be regularly carried on if they manifest a frequency and continuity, and are pursued in a manner, generally similar to comparable commercial activities of nonexempt organizations.

(2) Application of principles in certain cases(i) Normal time span of activities. Where income producing activities are of a kind normally conducted by nonexempt commercial organizations on a year-round basis, the conduct of such activities by an exempt organization over a period of only a few weeks does not constitute the regular carrying on of trade or business. For example, the operation of a sandwich stand by a hospital auxiliary for only 2 weeks at a state fair would not be the regular conduct of trade or business. However, the conduct of year-round business activities for one day each week would constitute the regular carrying on of trade or business. Thus, the operation of a commercial parking lot on Saturday of each week would be the regular conduct of trade or business. Where income producing activities are of a kind normally undertaken by nonexempt commercial organizations only on a seasonal basis, the conduct of such activities by an exempt organization during a significant portion of the season ordinarilyconstitutes the regular conduct of trade or business. For example, the operation of a track for horse racing for several weeks of a year would be considered the regular conduct of trade or business because it is usual to carry on such trade or business only during a particular season.

(ii) Intermittent activities; in general. In determining whether or not intermittently conducted activities are regularly carried on, the manner of conduct of the activities must be compared with the manner in which commercial activities are normally pursued by nonexempt organizations.

In general, exempt organization business activities which are engaged in only discontinuously or periodically will not be considered regularly carried on if they are conducted without the competitive and promotional efforts typical of commercial endeavors. For example, the publication of advertising in programs for sports events or music or drama performances will not ordinarily be deemed to be the regular carrying on of business.

Similarly, where an organization sells certain types of goods or services to a particular class of persons in pursuance of its exempt functions or primarily for the convenience of such persons within the meaning of section 513(a)(2) (as, for example, the sale of books by a college bookstore to students or the sale of pharmaceutical supplies by a hospital pharmacy to patients of the hospital), casual sales in the course of such activity which do not qualify as related to the exempt function involved or as described in section 513(a)(2) will not be treated as regular. On the other hand, where the nonqualifyingsales are not merely casual, but are systematically and consistently promoted and carried on by the organization, they meet the section 512 requirement of regularity.

(iii) Intermittent activities; special rule in certain cases of infrequent conduct. Certain intermittent income producing activities occur so infrequently that neither their recurrence nor the manner of their conduct will cause them to be regarded as trade or business regularly carried on. For example, income producing or fund raising activities lasting only a short period of time will not ordinarily be treated as regularly carried on if they recur only occasionally or sporadically. Furthermore, such activities will not be regarded as regularly carried on merely because they are conducted on an annually recurrent basis. Accordingly, income derived from the conduct of an annual dance or similar fund raising event for charity would not be income from trade or business regularly carried on.

(d) Substantially related(1) In general. Gross income derives from unrelated trade or business, within the meaning of section 513(a), if the conduct of the trade or business which produces the income is not substantially related (other than through the production of funds) to the purposes for which exemption is granted. The presence of this requirement necessitates an examination of the relationship between the business activities which generate the particular income in questionthe activities, that is, of producing or distributing the goods or performing the services involvedand the accomplishment of the organization's exempt purposes.

(2) Type of relationship required. Trade or business is related to exempt purposes, in the relevant sense, only where the conduct of the business activities has causal relationship to the achievement of exempt purposes (other than through the production of income); and it is substantially related, for purposes of section 513, only if the causal relationship is a substantial one. Thus, for the conduct of trade or business from which a particular amount of gross income is derived to be substantially related to purposes for which exemption is granted, the production or distribution of the goods or the performance of the services from which the gross income is derived must contribute importantly to the accomplishment of those purposes. Where the production or distribution of the goods or the performance of the services does not contribute importantly to the accomplishment of the exempt purposes of an organization, the income from the sale of the goods or the performance of the services does not derive from the conduct of related trade or business. Whether activities productive of gross income contribute importantly to the accomplishment of any purpose for which an organization is granted exemption depends in each case upon the facts and circumstances involved.

(3) Size and extent of activities. In determining whether activities contribute importantly to the accomplishment of an exempt purpose, the size and extent of the activities involved must be considered in relation to the nature and extent of the exempt function which they purport to serve. Thus, where income is realized by an exempt organization from activities which are in part related to the performance of its exempt functions, but which are conducted on a larger scale than is reasonably necessary for performance of such functions, the gross income attributable to that portion of the activities in excess of the needs of exempt functions constitutes gross income from the conduct of unrelated trade or business. Such income is not derived from the production or distribution of goods or the performance of services which contribute importantly to the accomplishment of any exempt purpose of the organization.

(4) Application of principles(i) Income from performance of exempt functions. Gross income derived from charges for the performance of exempt functions does not constitute gross income from the conduct of unrelated trade or business. The following examples illustrate the application of this principle: Example 1. M, an organization described in section 501(c)(3), operates a school for training children in the performing arts, such as acting, singing, and dancing. It presents performances by its students and derives gross income from admission charges for the performances. The students' participation in performances before audiences is an essential part of their training. Since the income realized from the performances derives from activities which contribute importantly to the accomplishment of M's exempt purposes, it does not constitute gross income from unrelated trade or business. (For specific exclusion applicable in certain cases of contributed services, see section 513(a)(1) and paragraph (e)(1) of this section.) Example 2. N is a trade union qualified for exemption under section 501(c)(5). To improve the trade skills of its members, N conducts refresher training courses and supplies handbooks and technical manuals.

N receives payments from its members for these services and materials.

However, the development and improvement of the skills of its members is one of the purposes for which exemption is granted N; and the activities described contribute importantly to that purpose. Therefore, the income derived from these activities does not constitute gross income from unrelated trade or business.

Example 3. O is an industry trade association qualified for exemption under section 501(c)(6). It presents a trade show in which members of its industry join in an exhibition of industry products. O derives income from charges made to exhibitors for exhibit space and admission fees charged patrons or viewers of the show. The show is not a sales facility for individual exhibitors; its purpose is the promotion and stimulation of interest in, and demand for, the industry's products in general, and it is conducted in a manner reasonably calculated to achieve that purpose. The stimulation of demand for the industry's products in general is one of the purposes for which exemption is granted O. Consequently, the activities productive of O's gross income from the showthat is, the promotion, organization and conduct of the exhibitioncontribute importantly to the achievement of an exempt purpose, and the income does not constitute gross income from unrelated trade or business. See also section 513(d) and regulations thereunder regarding sales activity.

(ii) Disposition of product of exempt functions. Ordinarily, gross income from the sale of products which result from the performance of exempt functions does not constitute gross income from the conduct of unrelated trade or business if the product is sold in substantially the same state it is in on completion of the exempt functions. Thus, in the case of an organization described in section 501(c)(3) and engaged in a program of rehabilitation of handicapped persons, income from sale of articles made by such persons as a part of their rehabilitation training would not be gross income from conduct of unrelated trade or business.

The income in such case would be from sale of products, the production of which contributed importantly to the accomplishment of purposes for which exemption is granted the organizationnamely, rehabilitation of the handicapped. On the other hand, if a product resulting from an exempt function is utilized or exploitedin further business endeavor beyond that reasonably appropriate or necessary for disposition in the state it is in upon completion of exempt functions, the gross income derived therefrom would be from conduct of unrelated trade or business. Thus, in the case of an experimental dairy herd maintained for scientific purposes by a research organization described in section 501(c)(3), income from sale of milk and cream produced in the ordinary course of operation of the project would not be gross income from conduct of unrelated trade or business. On the other hand, if the organization were to utilize the milk and cream in the further manufacture of food items such as ice cream, pastries, etc., the gross income from the sale of such products would be from the conduct of unrelated trade or business unless the manufacturing activities themselves contribute importantly to the accomplishment of an exempt purpose of the organization.

(iii) Dual use of assets or facilities. In certain cases, an asset or facility necessary to the conduct of exempt functions may also be employed in a commercial endeavor. In such cases, the mere fact of the use of the asset or facility in exempt functions does not, by itself, make the income from the commercial endeavor gross income from related trade or business. The test, instead, is whether the activities productive of the income in question contribute importantly to the accomplishment of exempt purposes. Assume, for example, that a museum exempt under section 501(c)(3) has a theater auditorium which is specially designed and equipped for showing of educational films in connection with its program of public education in the arts and sciences. The theater is a principal feature of the museum and is in continuous operation during the hours the museum is open to the public.

If the organization were to operate the theater as an ordinary motion picture theater for public entertainment during the evening hours when the museum was closed, gross income from such operation would be gross income from conduct of unrelated trade or business.

(iv) Exploitation of exempt functions. In certain cases, activities carried on by an organization in the performance of exempt functions may generate good will or other intangibles which are capable of being exploited in commercial endeavors. Where an organization exploits such an intangible in commercial activities, the mere fact that the resultant income depends in part upon an exempt function of the organization does not make it gross income from related trade or business. In such cases, unless the commercial activities themselves contribute importantly to the accomplishment of an exempt purpose, the income which they produce is gross income from the conduct of unrelated trade or business. The application of this subdivision is illustrated in the following examples: Example 1. U, an exempt scientific organization, enjoys an excellent reputation in the field of biological research. It exploits this reputation regularly by selling endorsements of various items of laboratory equipment to manufacturers. The endorsing of laboratory equipment does not contribute importantly to the accomplishment of any purpose for which exemption is granted U. Accordingly, the income derived from the sale of endorsements is gross income from unrelated trade or business.

Example 2. V, an exempt university, has a regular faculty and a regularly enrolled student body. During the school year, V sponsors the appearance of professional theater companies and symphony orchestras which present drama and musical performances for the students and faculty members. Members of the general public are also admitted. V advertises these performances and supervises advance ticket sales at various places, including such university facilities as the cafeteria and the university bookstore. V derives gross income from the conduct of the performances. However, while the presentation of the performances makes use of an intangible generated by V's exempt educational functionsthe presence of the student body and facultythe presentation of such drama and music events contributes importantly to the overall educational and cultural function of the university. Therefore, the income which V receives does not constitute gross income from the conduct of unrelated trade or business.

Example 3. W is an exempt business league with a large membership. Under an arrangement with an advertising agency, W regularly mails brochures, pamphlets and other commercial advertising materials to its members, for which service W charges the agency an agreed amount per enclosure. The distribution of the advertising materials does not contribute importantly to the accomplishment of any purpose for which W is granted exemption. Accordingly, the payments made to W by the advertising agency constitute gross income from unrelated trade or business.

Example 4. X, an exempt organization for the advancement of public interest in classical music, owns a radio station and operates it in a manner which contributes importantly to the accomplishment of the purposes for which the organization is granted exemption. However, in the course of the operation of the station the organization derives gross income from the regular sale of advertising time and services to commercial advertisers in the manner of an ordinary commercial station.

Neither the sale of such time nor the performance of such services contributes importantly to the accomplishment of any purpose for which the organization is granted exemption. Notwithstanding the fact that the production of the advertising income depends upon the existence of the listening audience resulting from performance of exempt functions, such income is gross income from unrelated trade or business.

Example 5. Y, an exempt university, provides facilities, instruction and faculty supervision for a campus newspaper operated by its students. In addition to news items and editorial commentary, the newspaper publishes paid advertising. The solicitation, sale, and publication of the advertising are conducted by students, under the supervision and instruction of the university. Although the services rendered to advertisers are of a commercial character, the advertising business contributes importantly to the university's educational program through the training of the students involved. Hence, none of the income derived from publication of the newspaper constitutes gross income from unrelated trade or business. The same result would follow even though the newspaper is published by a separately incorporated section 501(c)(3) organization, qualified under the university rules for recognition of student activities, and even though such organization utilizes its own facilities and is independent of faculty supervision, but carries out its educational purposes by means of student instruction of other students in the editorial and advertising activities and student participation in those activities.

Example 6. Z is an association exempt under section 501(c)(6), formed to advance the interests of a particular profession and drawing its membership from the members of that profession. Z publishes a monthly journal containing articles and other editorial material which contribute importantly to the accomplishment of purposes for which exemption is granted the organization. Income from the sale of subscriptions to members and others in accordance with the organization's exempt purposes, therefore, does not constitute gross income from unrelated trade or business. In connection with the publication of the journal, Z also derives income from the regular sale of space and services for general consumer advertising,including advertising of such products as soft drinks, automobiles, articles of apparel, and home appliances. Neither the publication of such advertisements nor the performance of services for such commercial advertisers contributes importantly to the accomplishment of any purpose for which exemption is granted. Therefore, notwithstanding the fact that the production of income from advertising utilizes the circulation developed and maintained in performance of exempt functions, such income is gross income from unrelated trade or business.

Example 7. The facts are as described in the preceding example, except that the advertising in Z's journal promotes only products which are within the general area of professional interest of its members.

Following a practice common among taxable magazines which publish advertising, Z requires its advertising to comply with certain general standards of taste, fairness, and accuracy; but within those limits the form, content, and manner of presentation of the advertising messages are governed by the basic objective of the advertisers to promote the sale of the advertised products. While the advertisements contain certain information, the informational function of the advertising is incidental to the controlling aim of stimulating demand for the advertised products and differs in no essential respect from the informational function of any commercial advertising. Like taxable publishers of advertising, Z accepts advertising only from those who are willing to pay its prescribed rates. Although continuing education of itsmembers in matters pertaining to their profession is one of the purposes for which Z is granted exemption, the publication of advertising designed and selected in the manner of ordinary commercial advertising is not an educational activity of the kind contemplated by the exemption statute; it differs fundamentally from such an activity both in its governing objective and in its method. Accordingly, Z's publication of advertising does not contribute importantly to the accomplishment of its exempt purposes; and the income which it derives from advertising constitutes gross income from unrelated trade or business.

(e) Exceptions. Section 513(a) specifically states that the term unrelated trade or business does not include: (1) Any trade or business in which substantially all the work in carrying on such trade or business is performed for the organization without compensation; or (2) Any trade or business carried on by an organization described in section 501(c)(3) or by a governmental college or university described in section 511(a)(2)(B), primarily for the convenience of its members, students, patients, officers, or employees; or, any trade or business carried on by a local association of employees described in section 501(c)(4) organized before May 27, 1969, which consists of the selling by the organization of items of work-related clothes and equipment and items normally sold through vending machines, through food dispensing facilities, or by snack bars, for the convenience of its members at their usual places of employment; or (3) Any trade or business which consists of selling merchandise, substantially all of which has been received by the organization as gifts or contributions.

An example of the operation of the first of the exceptions mentioned above would be an exempt orphanage operating a retail store and selling to the general public, where substantially all the work in carrying on such business is performed for the organization by volunteers without compensation. An example of the first part of the second exception, relating to an organization described in section 501(c)(3) or a governmental college or university described in section 511(a)(2)(B), would be a laundry operated by a college for the purpose of laundering dormitory linens and the clothing of students. The latter part of the second exception, dealing with certain sales by local employee associations, will not apply to sales of these items at locations other than the usual place of employment of the employees; therefore sales at such other locations will continue to be treated as unrelated trade or business. The third exception applies to so-called thrift shops operated by a tax-exempt organization where those desiring to benefit such organization contribute old clothes, books, furniture, et cetera, to be sold to the general public with the proceeds going to the exempt organization.

(f) Special rule respecting publishing businesses prior to 1970. For a special rule for taxable years beginning before January 1, 1970, with respect to publishing businesses carried on by an organization, see section 513(c) of the Code prior to its amendment by section 121(c) of the Tax Reform Act of 1969 (83 Stat. 542).

(g) Effective date. This section is applicable with respect to taxable years beginning after December 12, 1967. However, if a taxpayer wishes to rely on the rules stated in this section for taxable years beginning before December 13, 1967, it may do so.

[T.D. 6939, 32 FR 17657, Dec. 12, 1967; 32 FR 17890, Dec. 14, 1967; 32 FR 17938, Dec. 15, 1967; T.D. 7107, 36 FR 6421, Apr. 3, 1971; T.D. 7392, 40 FR 58642, Dec. 18, 1975; T.D. 7896, 48 FR 23817, May 27, 1983]