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After paying a portion of the federal unemployment taxes for a certain taxable year, the University filed a refund action in Federal District Court, and the Government counterclaimed for unpaid taxes for that and other taxable years. 81-1, petitioner Goldsboro Christian Schools maintains a racially discriminatory admissions policy based upon its interpretation of the Bible, accepting for the most part only Caucasian students. The corporation operates a school with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 students, from kindergarten through college and graduate school. Petitioners accordingly argue that the IRS overstepped its lawful bounds in issuing its 19 rulings. Congress, the source of IRS authority, can modify IRS rulings it considers improper; and courts exercise review over IRS actions. This Court has long held the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to be an absolute prohibition against governmental regulation of religious beliefs, at 402-403. The governmental interest at stake here is compelling. In the present case, the IRS issued its rulings denying exemptions to racially discriminatory schools only after a three-judge District Court had issued a preliminary injunction. JUSTICE POWELL misreads the Court's opinion when he suggests that the Court implies that the Internal Revenue Service is invested with authority to decide which public policies are sufficiently "fundamental" to require denial of tax exemptions, at 611. In setting forth the general rule, § 170 states: There shall be allowed as a deduction any charitable contribution (as defined in subsection (c)) payment of which is made within the taxable year.
Tax exemptions for certain institutions thought beneficial to the social order of the country as a whole, or to a particular community, are deeply rooted in our history, as in that of England.
Syllabus Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (IRC) provides that "[c]orporations . But in 1970, the IRS concluded that it could no longer justify allowing tax-exempt status under § 501(c)(3) to private schools that practiced racial discrimination, and in 1971 issued Revenue Ruling 71-447 providing that a private school not having a racially nondiscriminatory policy as to students is not "charitable" within the common law concepts reflected in §§ 170 and 501(c)(3). 81-3, petitioner Bob Jones University, while permitting unmarried Negroes to enroll as students, denies admission to applicants engaged in an interracial marriage or known to advocate interracial marriage or dating. Racially discriminatory educational institutions cannot be viewed as conferring a public benefit within the "charitable" concept discussed earlier, [p596] or within the congressional intent underlying § 170 and § 501(c)(3). [p603] As to such schools, it is argued that the IRS construction of § 170 and § 501(c)(3) violates their free exercise rights under the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment. 158 (1944), for example, the Court held that neutrally cast child labor laws prohibiting sale of printed materials on public streets could be applied to prohibit children from dispensing religious literature. (1959); Bogert § 369, at 65-67; 4 Scott § 368, at 2855-2856. This I am sure is no accident, for there is nothing in the language [p613] of § 501(c)(3) that supports the result obtained by the Court. Nowhere is there to be found some additional, undefined public policy requirement. The Court seizes the words "charitable contribution" and with little discussion concludes that "[o]n its face, therefore, § 170 reveals that Congress' intention was to provide tax benefits to organizations serving charitable purposes," intimating that this implies some unspecified common law charitable trust requirement. The Court would have been well advised to look to subsection (c) where, as § 170(a)(1) indicates, Congress has defined a "charitable contribution": For purposes of this section, the term "charitable contribution" means a contribution or gift to or for the use of . This, of course, is of considerable significance in determining the intended meaning of the statute. Therefore, it is my view that, unless and until Congress affirmatively amends § 501(c)(3) to require more, the IRS is without authority to deny petitioners § 501(c)(3) status.
organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable . Until 1970, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) granted tax-exempt status under § 501(c)(3) to private schools, independent of racial admissions policies, and granted charitable deductions for contributions to such schools under § 170 of the IRC. Whatever may be the rationale for such private schools' policies, and however sincere the rationale may be, racial discrimination in education is contrary to public policy. III Petitioners contend that, even if the Commissioner's policy is valid as to nonreligious private schools, that policy cannot constitutionally be applied to schools that engage in racial discrimination on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs. The Court's reading of § 501(c)(3) does not render meaningless Congress' action in specifying the eight categories of presumptively exempt organizations, as petitioners suggest. Yet contemporary standards must be considered in determining whether given activities provide a public benefit and are entitled to the charitable tax exemption. Charitable trust law also makes clear that the definition of "charity" depends upon contemporary standards. In approaching this statutory construction question, the Court quite adeptly avoids the statute it is construing. An entity must be (1) a corporation, or community chest, fund, or foundation, (2) organized for one of the eight enumerated purposes, (3) operated on a nonprofit basis, and (4) free from involvement in lobbying activities and political campaigns. [a] corporation, trust, or community chest, fund, or foundation . A provision of that Act provided an exemption for "corporations, companies, or associations organized and conducted solely for charitable, religious, or educational purposes." Ch. The 1909 Act provided an exemption for any corporation or association organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, or educational purposes, no part of the net income of which inures to the benefit of any private stockholder or individual. Prior to 1970, when the charted course was abruptly changed, the IRS had continuously interpreted § 501(c)(3) and its predecessors in accordance with the view I have expressed above. The IRS answered, consistent with its longstanding position, by maintaining a lack of authority to deny the tax exemption if the schools met the specified requirements of § 501(c)(3). Following the close of the litigation, the IRS published its new position in Revenue Ruling 71-447, stating that a school asserting a right to the benefits provided for in section 501(c)(3) of the Code as being organized and operated exclusively for educational purposes must be a common law charity in order to be exempt under that section. [p623] Petitioners are each organized for the "instruction or training of the individual for the purpose of improving or developing his capabilities," 26 CFR § 1.501(c)(3) - 1(d)(3) (1982), and thus are organized for "educational purposes" within the meaning of § 501(c)(3). There is no indication that either petitioner has been involved in lobbying activities or political campaigns.
Goldsboro has for the most part accepted only Caucasians. [p600] Ordinarily, and quite appropriately, courts are slow to attribute significance to the failure of Congress to act on particular legislation. Exhaustive hearings have been held on the issue at various times since then. Not one of these bills has emerged from any committee, although Congress has enacted numerous other amendments to § 501 during this same period, including an amendment to § 501(c)(3) itself. The Government suggested that these actions were therefore moot. The Government continues to assert that the IRS lacked authority to promulgate Revenue Ruling 71-447, and does not defend that aspect of the rulings below. 509, Liles & Blum, Development of the Federal Tax Treatment of Charities, 39 Law & Contemp. This assertion dissolves when one sees that § 501(c)(3) and § 170 are construed together, as they must be. We need not consider whether Congress intended to incorporate into the Internal Revenue Code any aspects of charitable trust law other than the requirements of public benefit and a valid public purpose. 601 (1895), for reasons unrelated to the charitable exemption provision. A similar exemption has been included in every income tax Act since the adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment, beginning with the Revenue Act of 1913, ch.
On occasion, however, the school has accepted children from racially mixed marriages in which one of the parents is Caucasian. 30, 1979; replaced by similar provisions in the Emergency School Aid Act of 1978, Pub. Before this Court ruled on that motion, however, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit enjoined the Government from granting § 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status to any school that discriminates on the basis of race. The predecessor of § 170 originally was enacted in 1917, as part of the War Revenue Act of 1917, ch. 330, whereas the predecessor of 501(c)(3) dates back to the income tax law of 1894, Act of Aug. The dissent acknowledges that the two sections are "mirror" provisions; surely there can be no doubt that the Court properly looks to § 170 to determine the meaning of § 501(c)(3). The draftsmen of the 1894 income tax law, which included the first charitable exemption provision, relied heavily on English concepts of taxation, and the list of exempt organizations appears to have been patterned upon English income tax statutes. The terms of that exemption were, in substance, included in the corporate income tax contained in the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act of 1909, ch.