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Table of Contents

This Reg. Section:


General rule. No part of the net earnings of an employees' association may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual other than through the payment of benefits permitted by § 1.501(c)(9)-3. The disposition of property to, or the performance of services for, a person for less than the greater of fair market value or cost (including indirect costs) to the association, other than as a life, sick, accident or other permissible benefit, constitutes prohibited inurement. Generally, the payment of unreasonable compensation to the trustees or employees of the association, or the purchase of insurance or services for amounts in excess of their fair market value from a company in which one or more of the association's trustees, officers or fiduciaries has an interest, will constitute prohibited inurement. Whether prohibited inurement has occurred is a question to be determined with regard to all of the facts and circumstances, taking into account the guidelines set forth in this section. The guidelines and examples contained in this section are not an exhaustive list of the activities that may constitute prohibited inurement, or the persons to whom the association's earnings could impermissibly inure. See § 1.501(a)-1(c).


Disproportionate benefits. For purposes of subsection (a), the payment to any member of disproportionate benefits, where such payment is not pursuant to objective and nondiscriminatory standards, will not be considered a benefit within the meaning of § 1.501(c)(9)-3 even though the benefit otherwise is one of the type permitted by that section. For example, the payment to highly compensated personnel of benefits that are disproportionate in relation to benefits received by other members of the association will constitute prohibited inurement. Also, the payment to similarly situated employees of benefits that differ in kind or amount will constitute prohibited inurement unless the difference can be justified on the basis of objective and reasonable standards adopted by the association or on the basis of standards adopted pursuant to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. In general, benefits paid pursuant to standards or subject to conditions that do not provide for disproportionate benefits to officers, shareholders, or highly compensated employees will not be considered disproportionate. See § 1.501(c)(9)-2(a) (2) and (3).


Rebates. The rebate of excess insurance premiums, based on the mortality or morbidity experience of the insurer to which the premiums were paid, to the person or persons whose contributions were applied to such premiums, does not constitute prohibited inurement. A voluntary employees' beneficiary association may also make administrative adjustments strictly incidental to the provision of benefits to its members.


Termination of plan or dissolution of association. It will not constitute prohibited inurement if, on termination of a plan established by an employer and funded through an association described in section 501(c)(9), any assets remaining in the association, after satisfaction of all liabilities to existing beneficiaries of the plan, are applied to provide, either directly or through the purchase of insurance, life, sick, accident or other benefits within the meaning of § 1.501(c)(9)-3 pursuant to criteria that do not provide for disproportionate benefits to officers, shareholders, or highly compensated employees of the employer. See § 1.501(c)(9)-2(a)(2). Similarly, a distribution to members upon the dissolution of the association will not constitute prohibited inurement if the amount distributed to members are determined pursuant to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement or on the basis of objective and reasonable standards which do not result in either unequal payments to similarly situated members or in disproportionate payments to officers, shareholders, or highly compensated employees of an employer contributing to or otherwise funding the employees' association. Except as otherwise provided in the first sentence of this paragraph, if the association's corporate charter, articles of association, trust instrument, or other written instrument by which the association was created, as amended from time to time, provides that on dissolution its assets will be distributed to its members' contributing employers, or if in the absence of such provision the law of the state in which the association was created provides for such distribution to the contributing employers, the association is not described in section 501(c)(9).


Example. The provisions of this section may be illustrated by the following example:


Employees A, B and C, members of the X voluntary employees' beneficiary association, are unemployed. They receive unemployment benefits from X. Those to A include an amount in addition to those provided to B and C, to provide for A's retraining. B has been found pursuant to objective and reasonable standards not to qualify for the retraining program. C, although eligible for retraining benefits has declined. X's additional payment to A for retraining does not constitute prohibited inurement.

[T.D. 7750, 46 FR 1725, Jan. 7, 1981]