First Advisor

Sy Adler

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies




Nonprofit organizations -- Taxation -- Law and legislation -- Oregon, Tax exemption -- Law and legislation -- Oregon, Unfair Competition -- Oregon



Physical Description

2, 135 leaves 28 cm.


Unrelated business enterprises have been an appropriate way for nonprofit organizations to generate income since the first income tax was enacted into law. The Internal Revenue Act of 1950 clarified this opportunity and enacted the Unrelated Business Income Tax to ensure that fair competition existed between nonprofits and for profit organizations. Nonprofit organizations conducting unrelated business enterprises are faced with a dilemma: it is legal for them to conduct such enterprises but if they do so they face potential litigation from for profit business for unfair competition and/or potential loss of tax-exempt status for operating outside of their exempt function. This dissertation traces the history and theory of tax-exempt status, the history of unrelated business enterprises, and how several states, including Oregon, have addressed the issue. It then explains two major pieces of litigation in Oregon in the 1980's, Southern Oregon State College and YMCA of Columbia-Willamette, then discusses the history of the media attention and legislative/bureaucratic action in the same period. Current litigation and media attention is then discussed. The paper then discusses two theoretical frameworks, Agenda Building and Advocacy Coalition, as a means to analyze the data. Following is a discussion of how the issues of unrelated business enterprises and unfair business competition can be handled by nonprofits and the changing criteria for tax-exempt status in Oregon. The dissertation concludes with the changing criteria for tax-exempt status in Oregon and fundamental philosophical and political issues yet to be decided. Included are recommendations such as a periodic review of tax-exempt status of nonprofits, the need for nonprofits to continually review their mission and exempt purpose, the need for nonprofits to maintain their relationships with the community they serve, and how nonprofits need to develop a self-governing program before government develops one for them.


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