Overview

IRS Publication 78 (Pub78) is a publicly available list maintained by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This list identifies organizations granted tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Pub78 is a catalog of charities and nonprofit organizations eligible for tax-deductible donations.

Pub78 holds significant value for those involved in philanthropy, tax planning, nonprofit management, or research. It helps ensure that donations are directed toward legitimate and tax-deductible causes while providing transparency in the nonprofit sector. The publication fosters trust in the sector by simplifying the verification of deductibility requirements for stakeholders. The stakeholders include the following:

Citizen donors: Individuals and businesses that donate to organizations listed in Publication 78 may be eligible for tax deductions. These deductions can reduce the donor’s taxable income, potentially reducing tax liability.

Grantmakers: Foundations and grantmaking institutions often refer to Publication 78 to confirm the tax-exempt status of potential grantees. This ensures they are channeling funds toward charitable purposes.

Researchers: Academics, policymakers, and philanthropic organizations may use this list to assess nonprofit organizations' legitimacy and transparency. It aids in conducting due diligence when evaluating the effectiveness and trustworthiness of charitable organizations.

Regulators: For IRS compliance purposes, organizations listed in Publication 78 must meet specific criteria and adhere to tax regulations. Research related to nonprofit compliance or tax law may involve consulting this list.

Limitations

Publication 78 is an example of an “instantaneous” IRS dataset, which contains the current list of nonprofits eligible to receive tax-deductible donations. Organizations that lose their tax-exempt status are removed from the list, but it doesn’t provide any historical data about organizations that were previously on the list.

Publication 78 has some notable limitations:

Incomplete representation of affiliated nonprofits: Nonprofits that are part of affiliate structures and file joint 990s will not appear in Pub78. Even though these affiliates have unique Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) and may operate independently, only the parent organizations will appear in Pub78. Affiliation structures vary greatly from coalition to franchise to chapter models, and all affiliates are also eligible to receive tax-deductible donations.

Unregistered religious groups: Many churches and religious groups are de facto eligible to receive tax-deductible donations but may not have formally registered with the IRS. Consequently, they would not appear in Pub78.

Challenges in identifying nonprofits: Nonprofits often use informal or updated names, commonly referred to as their “doing business as” (DBA) or a “sort code.” These names may differ from their official names in the IRS database. If you do not know its EIN, locating the correct organization in the database can be challenging.

Usage

###
###   DATA PREVIEW
###

library( dplyr )
library( kableExtra )

FILENAME <- "2023-10-CURRENT-EXEMPT-ORGS-DATABASE.csv"
BASE.URL <- "https://nccsdata.s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/public/pub78/"
d <- read.csv( paste0( BASE.URL, FILENAME ) )

d %>%
  head() %>%  
  kbl() %>%
  kable_minimal()
ein legal_name city state country deductibility_status ID
587764 Iglesia Bethesda Inc. Lowell MA United States PC ID-000587764
635913 Ministerio Apostolico Jesucristo Es El Senor Inc. Lawrence MA United States PC ID-000635913
765634 Mercy Chapel International Mattapan MA United States PC ID-000765634
841363 Agape House of Prayer Mattapan MA United States PC ID-000841363
852649 Bethany Presbyterian Church Brookline MA United States PC ID-000852649
889899 Academic and Behavioral Clinic Inc. Boston MA United States PC ID-000889899





More Datasets

527 Political Action Committees

Electronic filings made by 527 organizations.

elections campaign finance 501c4

Business Master File (BMF)

All active organizations that have been granted nonprofit status by the IRS.

BMF sample-framework metadata