On Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 10:50 PM, Fred Bauder <fredbaud(a)fairpoint.net> wrote:
On Tue, Apr
26, 2011 at 3:05 PM, Fred Bauder <fredbaud(a)fairpoint.net>
Foundation is not a legal term
"Private foundation" is one, though, and it is one that is contrasted
with "public charity".
Yeh, I think we'd have to look up more than that to actually clarify all
I'm not sure there's anything to clarify. The author of that article
was obviously referencing the IRS distinction of "private foundation"
vs. "public charity", in which the WMF clearly fits under "public
charity" (at least, according to their tax filings and determination
letter they do, see for instance
If you asked anyone who is familiar with US tax law for tax-exempt
organizations what the difference is "between a foundation and a
charity", that's what they're going to think of. However, I think
it's nearly equally clear that the definitions of these terms in the
US Code do not coincide exactly (or even very much at all) with common
Furthermore, as far as I can tell, "public charity" is a term invented
by (or at least popularized by) the IRS, which doesn't appear in the
actual tax code. It could just as well be "private foundation" vs.
"public foundation", and in fact the term "public foundation" does
have quite a fair bit of use.
Anyway, my purpose in pointing out that section of IRS code was to
explain what the author was talking about. I don't think it shows
that the author was right. In fact, I think the author was putting
far too much emphasis on some relatively obscure portions of the
Internal Revenue Code, instead of plain language meanings, on which
the status of the WMF is much more ambiguous. To the extent the
phrases "foundation" and "charity" have gone astray, they have gone
astray due to the non-plain-language definitions given by the Internal
Revenue Code and the Internal Revenue Service.