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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.
The origins of such exemptions lie in the special privileges that have long been extended to charitable trusts.
More than a century ago, this Court announced the caveat that is critical in this case: [I]t has now become an established principle of American law that courts of chancery will sustain and protect .
I A Until 1970, the Internal Revenue Service granted tax-exempt status to private schools, without regard to their racial admissions policies, under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U. Since May 29, 1975, the University has permitted unmarried Negroes to enroll; but a disciplinary rule prohibits interracial dating and marriage. Students who are partners in an interracial marriage will be expelled. Students who are members of or affiliated with any group or organization which holds as one of its goals or advocates interracial marriage will be expelled. Students who date outside of their own race will be expelled. Students who espouse, promote, or encourage others to violate the University's dating rules and regulations will be expelled. The Government counterclaimed for unpaid federal unemployment taxes for the taxable years 1971 through 1975, in the amount of 9,675.59, plus interest. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in a divided opinion, reversed. In the court's view, Bob Jones University did not meet this requirement, since its racial policies violated the clearly defined public policy, rooted in our Constitution, condemning racial discrimination and, more specifically, the government policy against subsidizing racial discrimination in education, public or private. The court held that the IRS acted within its statutory authority in revoking the University's tax-exempt status. Several years before this Court's decision in President Truman issued Executive Orders prohibiting racial discrimination in federal employment decisions, Exec. 9980, 3 CFR 720 (1943-1948 Comp.), and in classifications for the Selective Service, Exec. Yet, for a dozen years, Congress has been made aware -- acutely aware -- of the IRS rulings of 19. Congress affirmatively manifested its acquiescence in the IRS policy when it enacted the present § 501(i) of the Code, Act of Oct. Although a ban on intermarriage or interracial dating applies to all races, decisions of this Court firmly establish that discrimination on the basis of racial affiliation and association is a form of racial discrimination, also on certiorari to the same court. 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. Beginning in 1973, Bob Jones University instituted an exception to this rule, allowing applications from unmarried Negroes who had been members of the University staff for four years or more. Goldsboro also asserted that it was not obliged to pay taxes on lodging furnished to its teachers.
The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina held that revocation of the University's tax-exempt status exceeded the delegated powers of the IRS, was improper under the IRS rulings and procedures, and violated the University's rights under the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment. Finally, the Court of Appeals rejected petitioner's arguments that the revocation of the tax exemption violated the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment. The school offers classes from kindergarten through high school, and, since at least 1969, has satisfied the State of North Carolina's requirements for secular education in private schools. As we noted earlier, few issues have been the subject of more vigorous and widespread debate and discussion in and out of Congress than those related to racial segregation in education. Here, however, we do not have an ordinary claim of legislative acquiescence. It is hardly conceivable that Congress -- and in this setting, any Member of Congress -- was not abundantly [p601] aware of what was going on. Section 501(c)(3) lists the following organizations, which, pursuant to § 501(a), are exempt from taxation unless denied tax exemptions under other specified sections of the Code: Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, 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 . (Emphasis added.) Section 170(a) allows deductions for certain "charitable contributions." Section 170(c)(2)(B) includes within the definition of "charitable contribution" a contribution or gift to or for the use of a corporation "organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes. According to the interpretation espoused by Goldsboro, race is determined by descendance from one of Noah's three sons -- Ham, Shem, and Japheth. It does not ask this Court to review the rejection of that claim.
[p584] Goldsboro paid the IRS ,459.93 in withholding, social security, and unemployment taxes with respect to one employee for the years 1969 through 1972. In addressing the motions for summary judgment, the court assumed that Goldsboro's racially discriminatory admissions policy was based upon a sincerely held religious belief. While the eight categories of institutions specified in the statute are indeed presumptively charitable in nature, the IRS properly considered principles of charitable trust law in determining whether the institutions in question may truly be considered "charitable" for purposes of entitlement to the tax benefits conferred by § 170 and § 501(c)(3). The House Report on the Tax Reform Act of 1969, Pub.
Thereafter, Goldsboro filed a suit seeking refund of that payment, claiming that the school had been improperly denied § 501(c)(3) exempt status. The court nevertheless rejected Goldsboro's claim to tax-exempt status under § 501(c) (3), finding that private schools maintaining racially discriminatory admissions policies violate clearly declared federal policy, and therefore must be denied the federal tax benefits flowing from qualification under Section 501(c)(3). The court also rejected Goldsboro's arguments that denial of tax-exempt status violated the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment. [p591] A corollary to the public benefit principle is the requirement, long recognized in the law of trusts, that the purpose of a charitable trust may not be illegal or violate established public policy. §§ 2000c 2000c-6, 2000d, clearly expressed its agreement that racial discrimination in education violates a fundamental public policy. The form and history of the charitable exemption and deduction sections of the various income tax Acts reveal that Congress was guided by the common law of charitable trusts.
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.
And the actions of Congress since 1970 leave no doubt that the IRS reached the correct conclusion in exercising its authority. Petitioners' asserted interests cannot be accommodated with that compelling governmental interest, and no less restrictive means are available to achieve the governmental interest. Goldsboro admits that it maintains racially discriminatory policies, and, contrary to Bob Jones University's contention that it is not racially discriminatory, discrimination on the basis of racial affiliation and association is a form of racial discrimination. J., Opinion of the Court CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court. To effectuate these views, Negroes were completely excluded until 1971. The University subsequently filed returns under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act for the period from December 1, 1970, to December 31, 1975, and paid a tax [p582] totalling on one employee for the calendar year of 1975. 1150 (DC 1971), with approval, the Court of Appeals concluded that § 501(c)(3) must be read against the background of charitable trust law. For more than 60 years, the IRS and its predecessors have constantly been called upon to interpret these and comparable provisions, and in doing so have referred consistently to principles of charitable trust law. The correctness of the Commissioner's conclusion that a racially discriminatory private school "is not ‘charitable' within the common law concepts reflected in . D The actions of Congress since 1970 leave no doubt that the IRS reached the correct conclusion in exercising its authority. Petitioner Bob Jones University, however, contends that it is not racially discriminatory. 230, defined "racially nondiscriminatory policy as to students" as meaning that the school admits the students of any race to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at that school, and that the school does not discriminate on the basis of race in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs. The Solicitor of Internal Revenue looked to the common law of charitable trusts in construing that provision, and noted that "generally bequests for the benefit and advantage of the general public are valid as charities." Sol.
We granted certiorari to decide whether petitioners, nonprofit private schools that prescribe and enforce racially discriminatory admissions standards on the basis of religious doctrine, qualify as tax-exempt organizations under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. § 501(c)(3), On January 12, 1970, a three-judge District Court for the District of Columbia issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the IRS from according tax-exempt status to private schools in Mississippi that discriminated as to admissions on the basis of race. From 1971 to May, 1975, the University accepted no applications from unmarried Negroes, 427 U. 160 (1976), prohibiting racial exclusion from private schools, the University revised its policy. After its request for a refund was denied, the University instituted the present action, seeking to recover the it had paid to the IRS. The court accordingly ordered the IRS to pay the University the refund it claimed and rejected the IRS's counterclaim. To be eligible for an exemption under that section, an institution must be "charitable" in the common law sense, and therefore must not be contrary to public policy. The Executive Branch has consistently placed its support behind eradication of racial discrimination. In 1957, President Eisenhower employed military forces to ensure compliance with federal standards in school desegregation programs. It is, of course, not unknown for independent agencies or the Executive Branch to misconstrue the intent of a statute; Congress can and often does correct such misconceptions, if the courts have not done so. The evidence of congressional approval of the policy embodied in Revenue Ruling 71-447 goes well beyond the failure of Congress to act on legislative proposals. It emphasizes that it now allows all races to enroll, subject only to its restrictions on the conduct of all students, including its prohibitions of association between men and women of different races, and of interracial marriage. Bob Jones University was founded in Florida in 1927. C., in 1940, and has been incorporated as an eleemosynary institution in South Carolina since 1952. That same year, the Bureau of Internal Revenue expressed a similar view of the charitable deduction section of the estate tax contained in the Revenue Act of 1918, ch.
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.