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The form of § 170 simply makes plain what common sense and history tell us: in enacting both § 170 and [p588] § 501(c)(3), Congress sought to provide tax benefits to charitable organizations, to encourage the development of private institutions that serve a useful public purpose or supplement or take the place of public institutions of the same kind. 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. That court found an "identity for present purposes" between the and we affirm in each. organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable . Petitioners argue that the plain language of the statute guarantees them tax-exempt status. The institution's purpose must not be so at odds with the common community conscience as to undermine any public benefit that might otherwise be conferred. II A In Revenue Ruling 71-447, the IRS formalized the policy, first announced in 1970, that § 170 and § 501(c)(3) embrace the common law "charity" concept. They emphasize the absence of any language in the statute expressly requiring all exempt organizations to be "charitable" in the common law sense, and they contend that the disjunctive "or" separating the categories in § 501(c)(3) precludes such a reading. 447, Congress expressly reconfirmed this view with respect to the charitable deduction provision: The exemption from taxation of money or property devoted to charitable and other purposes is based upon the theory that the Government is compensated for the loss of revenue by its relief from financial burdens which would otherwise have to be met by appropriations from other public funds, and by the benefits resulting from the promotion of the general welfare. B We are bound to approach these questions with full awareness that determinations of public benefit and public policy are sensitive matters with serious implications for the institutions affected; a declaration that a given institution is not "charitable" should be made only where there can be no doubt that the activity involved is contrary to a fundamental public policy. Congress, in Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Pub.
It is a well-established canon of statutory construction that a court should go beyond the literal language of a statute if reliance on that language would defeat the plain purpose of the statute: The general words used in the clause . But this mode of expounding a statute has never been adopted by any enlightened tribunal -- because it is evident that, in many cases, it would defeat the object which the Legislature intended to accomplish. Prior to 1954, public education in many places still was conducted under the pall of [p593] 347 U. An unbroken line of cases following establishes beyond doubt this Court's view that racial discrimination in education violates a most fundamental national public policy, as well as rights of individuals. is indeed so fundamental and pervasive that it is embraced in the concept of due process of law.
or educational purposes" are entitled to tax exemption. It would be wholly incompatible with the concepts underlying tax exemption to grant the benefit of tax-exempt status to racially discriminatory educational entities, which "exer[t] a pervasive influence on the entire educational process." at 469. Even more significant is the fact that both Reports focus on this Court's affirmance of at 7-8, and n. These references in congressional Committee Reports on an enactment denying tax exemptions to racially discriminatory private social clubs cannot be read [p602] other than as indicating approval of the standards applied to racially discriminatory private schools by the IRS subsequent to 1970, and specifically of Revenue Ruling 71-447. Surely Congress had no thought of affording such an unthinking, wooden meaning to § 170 and § 501(c)(3) as to provide tax benefits to "educational" organizations that do not serve a public, charitable purpose. In 1894, when the first charitable exemption provision was enacted, racially segregated educational institutions would not have been regarded as against public policy. 664, 673 (1970), we observed: Qualification for tax exemption is not perpetual or immutable; some tax-exempt groups lose that status when their activities take them outside the classification and new entities can come into being and qualify for exemption. But, unlike the Court, I am convinced that Congress simply has failed to take this action and, as this Court has said over and over again, regardless of our view on the propriety of Congress' failure to legislate, we are not constitutionally empowered to act for it. With undeniable clarity, Congress has explicitly defined the requirements for § 501(c)(3) status. organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals; . The first general income tax law was passed by Congress in the form of the Tariff Act of 1894. The income tax portion of the 1894 Act was held unconstitutional by this Court, 158 U. 601 (1895), but a similar exemption appeared in the Tariff Act of 1909 which imposed a tax on corporate income. And again, in the direct predecessor of § 501(c)(3), a tax exemption was provided for any corporation or association organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, or educational purposes, [p616] no part of the net income of which inures to the benefit of any private stockholder or individual. I have little doubt that neither the "Fagin School for Pickpockets" nor a school training students for guerrilla warfare and terrorism in other countries would meet the definitions contained in the regulations. In 1970, the IRS was sued by parents of black public school children seeking to enjoin the IRS from according tax-exempt status under § 501(c)(3) to private schools in Mississippi that discriminated against blacks. 997 (1971), and in the face of a preliminary injunction, [p620] the IRS changed its position and adopted the view of the plaintiffs. Perhaps recognizing the lack of support in the statute itself, or in its history, for the 1970 IRS change in interpretation, the Court finds that "[t]he actions of Congress since 1970 leave no doubt that the IRS reached the correct conclusion in exercising its authority," concluding that there is "an unusually strong case of legislative acquiescence in and ratification by implication of the 19 rulings." 381 U. The Court next asserts that "Congress affirmatively manifested its acquiescence in the IRS policy when it enacted the present § 501(i) of the Code," a provision that "denies tax-exempt status to social clubs whose charters or policy statements [p621] provide for" racial discrimination. Quite to the contrary, it seems to me that, in § 501(i), Congress showed that, when it wants to add a requirement prohibiting racial discrimination to one of the tax-benefit provisions, it is fully aware of how to do it. The Court points out that, in proposing his amendment, Congressman Ashbrook stated: "‘My amendment very clearly indicates on its face that all the regulations in existence as of August 22, 1978, would not be touched.'" The Court fails to note that Congressman Ashbrook also said: The IRS has no authority to create public policy. I agree with the Court that Congress has the power to further this policy by denying § 501(c)(3) status to organizations that practice racial discrimination.
Because of this admissions policy, the IRS revoked the University's tax-exempt status. C Petitioners contend that, regardless of whether the IRS properly concluded that racially discriminatory private schools violate public policy, only Congress can alter the scope of § 170 and § 501(c)(3). This contention presents claims not heretofore considered by this Court in precisely this context. The state may justify a limitation on religious liberty by showing that it is essential to accomplish an overriding governmental interest. The Court found no constitutional infirmity in "excluding [Jehovah's Witness children] from doing there what no other children may do." Denial of tax benefits will inevitably have a substantial [p604] impact on the operation of private religious schools, but will not prevent those schools from observing their religious tenets. 30, 35 (1958), in which this Court referred to "the presumption against congressional intent to encourage violation of declared public policy" in upholding the Commissioner's disallowance of deductions claimed by a trucking company for fines it paid for violations of state maximum weight laws. In view of our conclusion that racially discriminatory private schools violate fundamental public policy and cannot be deemed to confer a benefit on the public, we need not decide whether an organization providing a public benefit and otherwise meeting the requirements of § 501(c)(3) could nevertheless be denied tax-exempt status if certain of its activities violated a law or public policy. Section 501(c)(3) provides tax-exempt status for: Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office. The Court first seeks refuge from the obvious reading of § 501(c)(3) by turning to § 170 of the Internal Revenue Code, which provides a tax deduction for contributions made to § 501(c)(3) organizations. For this reason, I would reverse the Court of Appeals.
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.
Holding that the IRS exceeded its powers in revoking the University's tax-exempt status and violated the University's rights under the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment, the District Court ordered the IRS to refund the taxes paid and rejected the counterclaim. The IRS determined that Goldsboro was not an organization described in § 501(c)(3), and hence was required to pay federal social security and unemployment taxes. Bob Jones University is not affiliated with any religious denomination, but is dedicated to the teaching and propagation of its fundamentalist Christian religious beliefs. Yet ever since the inception of the Tax Code, Congress has seen fit to vest in those administering the tax laws very broad authority to interpret those laws. The same provision, so essential to efficient and fair administration of the tax laws, has appeared in Tax Codes ever since, 177 U. In the first instance, however, the responsibility [p597] for construing the Code falls to the IRS. Guided, of course, by the Code, the IRS has the responsibility, in the first instance, to determine whether a particular [p598] entity is "charitable" for purposes of § 170 and § 501(c)(3). However, [n]ot all burdens on religion are unconstitutional. As discussed in Part II-B, -- discrimination that prevailed, with official approval, for the first 165 years of this Nation's constitutional history. The Court's opinion does not warrant that interpretation. (appointed by the Court), argue that denial of tax-exempt status to racially discriminatory schools is independently required by the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment. A charitable contribution shall be allowable as a deduction only if verified [p614] under regulations prescribed by the Secretary.