Rev. Rul. 85-2
1985-1 C.B. 178, 1985-1 I.R.B. 19.
Internal Revenue Service
CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION; LESSENING GOVERNMENTAL BURDENS; LEGAL ASSISTANCE
FOR GUARDIANS AD LITEM
Published: January 7, 1985
26 CFR 1.501(c)(3)-1:Organizations organized and operated for religious,
charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational
purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
Charitable organization; lessening governmental burdens; legal assistance
for guardians ad litem. An organization that provides legal assistance to
guardians ad litem who represent abused and neglected children before a
juvenile court that requires their appointment lessens the burdens, of
government and, therefore, qualifies for exemption under section 501(c)(3)
of the Code.
Under the circumstances described below, does an organization that
provides legal advice and training to guardians ad litem representing
neglected or abused children before a juvenile court qualify for exemption
from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue
The organization, which otherwise qualifies for exemption from federal
income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Code, was created and is operated
for the sole purpose of providing legal counsel and training to volunteers
who serve as guardians ad litem in juvenile court dependency and
deprivation proceedings. This activity is part of a program operated by the
juvenile court of a particular community. In the program, volunteers are
recruited and selected from the community at large and are appointed by the
court to serve as guardians ad litem in cases involving neglected or abused
children. The volunteer's function is to investigate the facts of the case,
to provide the court with a comprehensive evaluation of the problem, and to
provide a recommendation on what course of action would be in the child's
The law of the State in which the organization is incorporated
authorizes, and the local court's rules of practice require, the
appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent a child's interest in a
proceeding relating to child abuse. For several years prior to the
implementation of the volunteer program, the court appointed and paid
attorneys to serve as guardians ad litem and represent the children in
court proceedings. The court was experiencing problems in the appointment
of attorneys and decided to initiate the volunteer program.
The organization employs attorneys to provide legal advice and
representation to the lay volunteers, and operates a training program for
the volunteers on how best to represent the interests of abused and
neglected children. The organization is supported in part by grants from
the juvenile court.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Section 501(c)(3) of the Code provides for the exemption from federal
income tax of organizations organized and operated exclusively for
Section 1.501(c)(3)-1(d)(2) of the Income Tax Regulations provides that
the term 'charitable' is used in section 501(c)(3) of the Code in its
generally accepted legal sense, and includes lessening the burdens of
A determination of whether an organization is lessening the burdens of
government requires consideration of whether the organization's activities
are activities that a governmental unit considers to be its burdens, and
whether such activities actually 'lessen' such governmental burden.
To determine whether an activity is a burden of government, the question
to be answered is whether there is an objective manifestation by the
government that it considers such activity to be part of its burden. The
fact that an organization is engaged in an activity that is sometimes
undertaken by the government is insufficient to establish a burden of
government. Similarly, the fact that the government or an official of the
government expresses approval of an organization and its activities is also
not sufficient to establish that the organization is lessening the burdens
of government. The interrelationship between the organization's activities
to be its burden (sic).
To determine whether the organization is actually lessening the burdens
of government, all of the relevant facts and circumstances must be
considered. A favorable working relationship between the government and the
organization is strong evidence that the organization is actually
'lessening' the burdens of the government.
In this case, the juvenile court requires the appointment of guardians ad
litem. The court previously undertook to appoint and compensate attorneys
to serve as guardians in juvenile court proceedings. After several years of
this practice, the court determined that the best way to conduct this
activity would be to appoint volunteers and arranged with this organization
for the training and legal representation of the volunteers. The court
supports this organization through grants and utilizes the volunteers
trained by the organization. These facts show that the government considers
the activities of the organization to be its burden.
The organization's training of lay volunteers is an integral part of the
government's program of providing guardians ad litem in juvenile court
proceedings. Without the organization's activities, the government could
not continue its present program, unless it undertook to train lay
volunteers itself, or appointed attorneys to act as guardians as it had in
the past. Thus, the organization is actually lessening the government's
burden within the meaning of section 1.501(c)(3)-1(d)(2) of the
The organization described above, which provides legal advice and
training to guardians ad litem representing abused or neglected children
before a juvenile court, qualifies for exemption from federal income tax
under section 501(c)(3) of the Code.
Even though an organization considers itself within the scope of this
revenue ruling, it must file an application on Form 1023, Application for
Recognition of Exemption, in order to be recognized by the Service as
exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Code. See sections 1.501(a)-1 and
1.508-1(a) of the regulations. In accordance with the instructions to Form
1023, the application should be filed with the District Director of
Internal Revenue for the key district indicated therein.
Rev. Rul. 85-2, 1985-1 C.B. 178, 1985-1 I.R.B. 19.