IRS Denials of Charitable Status: A Social Welfare Organization Problem

This Note argues that the courts and the Service should recognize social welfare organizations as charitable and, consequently, contributions to such organizations should be tax deductible. Part I describes the Service’s position and sets forth the statutory arguments supporting it. Part II raises two objections to the Service’s position: (1) the distinction between social welfare organizations and charitable organizations lacks an adequate statutory justification, and (2) this distinction produces unpredictable and arbitrary results. Part III proposes that all social welfare organizations be accorded charitable status under subsection 50l(c)(3). This proposal would eliminate the arbitrary results now reached by the Service, increase the social benefits fostered by the income tax deduction for charitable contributions, and generally promote the policies underlying the favorable tax treatment of charitable organizations.