|Tweet this article|
Over the last two weeks, we have looked at non-profit basics and dug in to one of the six myths that are common confusions for non-profit leadership.
Today, we look at the second myth: that non-profits don’t pay taxes.
Where does this myth come from?
The myth that non-profits don’t pay taxes is based on the well-founded fact that non-profits do not pay federal corporate income taxes in the United States. In other words, unlike regular businesses, non-profits do not pay the (as of 2015) 15% to 35% on the net of revenues over expenses. Businesses call this "profit" while non-profits call this "surplus". In other words, if a non-profit takes in $1 Million and spends $990,000.00, then their surplus is $10,000, which would be taxable to a business, but is not to a non-profit.
So no, non-profits don't pay those taxes.
However, those aren't the only taxes that affect non-profits. In many cases, these other taxes can be waived, but some get paid no matter what.
Income taxes on "unrelated business income": non-profits can still pay some form of income taxes if a non-profit engages in what the IRS deems to be "unrelated business." Once again, this isn't a tax on the total revenues, but only on the net revenues less expenses for the portion of the non-profit considered to be "unrelated business."
Property Taxes: Property taxes are levied by municipalities, and administered by the counties and the states to which the municipalities belong. School boards, cities, townships, park districts, etc., all typically have taxing authority based on the value of real estate owned by individuals and corporations, including non-profits. Different exemptions from property taxes apply for some organizations. For instance, most churches holding regular services of worship are exempted. However, other religious organizations often pay property taxes. Since taxes are assessed by real estate parcel, sometimes one parcel of land is tax-exempt, while another parcel is not, depending on usage.
Payroll Taxes: FICA and Medicare. For non-profits with employees that are not exempt from FICA and Medicare (and pay Self-Employment Tax instead), employers pay half of the FICA and Medicare taxes due based on the employee's compensation. Employers are also responsible to deposit taxes withheld from their employees' compensation - and subject to penalties and interest if they do not. So while the employer is only responsible to pay 6.2% of employees' compensation for FICA (up to a dollar limit) and 1.45% for Medicare, employers, even non-profit employers, are responsible to deduct payroll taxes from employees' paychecks, file an employer payroll tax return (typically quarterly, or at least annually) and deposit all their employees' deducted taxes.
Sales Taxes: Since sales taxes are administrated locally, most non-profits can receive exemptions from sales taxes, but must fill out a form at each vendor to receive tax-exempt status. Sales taxes are typically collected by the vendor on behalf of the purchaser, so each vendor must keep a file of those non-profits who have exempt status.
Excise Taxes: Taxes on gasoline, beverage alcohol, tobacco, etc., are levied per unit (e.g., 25 cents for each gallon of gasoline), and embedded in the retail price. Therefore, non-profits pay excise taxes regularly in the course of business. Unless these things are purchased at "duty free shops", no one is exempt from them. And crossing an international border to be free from them is probably not worth the hassle for most of us.
So do non-profits pay taxes? Most do - in some form. Non-profits certainly pay less in taxes than other businesses. No non-profit pays income taxes on its charitable work. So while grounded in truth, it is a myth to say that a non-profit never pays taxes ever at any time. For some non-profit leaders, this comes as a surprise, and often at a time when it has grown to a place where penalties and interest are already involved.
Design Group International provides a tool to help determine what financial roles your organization has covered, and where it may have some gaps. Click the button to the left to get your free roles tool today!
|Follow @matthewmthomas_||Follow @designgroupint1|