Saturday, November 9, 2019
A newspaper: those smooth sheets with today's top headlines printed out in black ink that may subtly smear and transfer to your fingers as you slowly flip through the numerous papers, reading your fill. Now almost all of them are digital and come to you at all hours, all angles, and with no ink at all. Another change may now be on the horizon: The Salt Lake Tribune has announced that it is now recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a 501(c)(3) organization.
Once reserved for churches and schools, the Tax Code states that any business or organization operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, educational, or other specified purposes and that meet certain other requirements may receive status. The Tribune says that as of October 29, 2019, earlier than they estimated they would hear back from the IRS, which usually processes tax exempt applications within a 3-6 month period.
Contributions to the paper will now be tax-exempt, and the Tribune is already soliciting donations. They will be bound by the same rules and guidelines as any charitable organizations, which means that they will cease all endorsements of political candidates, though they can continue to cover political news stories. Non-profit corporations are not privately owned, rather governed by a board of directors, so owner Paul Huntsman has to give up ownership of the paper, though he will remain as the publisher. Why the change? Huntsman said the current business model was simply not working anymore. "We needed to find a way to sustain this vital community institution well beyond my ownership, and non-profit status will help us do that. This is truly excellent news for all Utah residents and for local news organizations across the country.”
See Kelly Phillips Erb, IRS Approves Newspaper’s Bid to be a Public Charity, Forbes, November 5, 2019.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.