Why would a non-profit want a tax credit?
January 11, 2011 10:05 AM   Subscribe

What benefit would a tax credit be to a non-profit, tax-exempt (501c3) organization?

I have been asked by my employer to research a state program that gives business entities tax credits for hiring people who fit certain criteria. But we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity, and it is my understanding that, as such, we do not pay taxes.

What am I missing here? What good would a tax credit do us if we don't pay taxes?

The only thing I can think of is that it might be *refundable*, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, which can sometimes result in the government sending out a check to the individual. Would that be likely for a business taxes situation?

Oddly, the people at the state office who administer this tax credit program are unable to answer my question, even though their web site specifically invites non-profit/c3 organizations to apply.

IANATaxLawyer/CPA/MoneyPerson, but I am an educated citizen, and puzzled. I have more calls in to people at the state office, but in the meantime can anybody make a decent guess? Many thanks.
posted by mccxxiii to Law & Government (5 answers total)
At least some tax credits can be sold. This mechanism is often used to finance the construction of affordable housing. A non-profit builds the housing and gets a tax credit, and they sell the tax credit to help finance the construction.
posted by alms at 10:08 AM on January 11, 2011

Nonprofit employers still pay at least some payroll taxes. On the federal side, this means the employer's share of Social Security & Medicare; on the state side it could mean unemployment taxes and maybe other things. So it's possible that your employer may still have some payroll tax liability that the tax credit may be applicable to.
posted by yarrow at 10:27 AM on January 11, 2011

Lot's of non-profits pay Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT). That's when revenue is generated by an activity unrelated to an organization's tax exempt purpose.

Check your org's Form 990 to see if you're paying UBIT.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 10:30 AM on January 11, 2011

Oh, sorry, I missed that this is a state tax credit you're asking about. In Illinois, we pay a corporate tax of 4.8% of net profit. If your state levies a similar tax, that's probably where you'd apply your credits.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 10:41 AM on January 11, 2011

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