26 CFR § 1.456-5 - Definitions and other rules.
(a) Prepaid dues income.
(1) The term “prepaid dues income” means any amount for membership dues includible in gross income which is received by a membership organization in connection with, and is directly attributable to, a liability of the taxpayer to render services or make available membership privileges over a period of time which extends beyond the close of the taxable year in which such amount is received.
(2) For purposes of section 456, prepaid dues income does not include amounts received by a taxpayer in connection with sales of memberships on a prepaid basis where the taxpayer does not have the liability to furnish the services or make available the membership privileges. For example, where a taxpayer has a contract with several membership organizations to sell memberships in such organizations and retains a portion of the amounts received from the sale of such memberships and remits the balance to the membership organizations, the amounts retained by such taxpayer represent commissions and do not constitute prepaid dues income for purposes of section 456.
(b) Liability. The term “liability” means a liability of the taxpayer to render services or make available membership privileges over a period of time which does not exceed 36 months. Thus, if during the taxable year a taxpayer sells memberships for more than 36 months and also memberships for 36 months or less, section 456 does not apply to the income from the sale of memberships for more than 36 months. For the purpose of determining the duration of a liability, a bona fide renewal of a membership shall not be considered to be a part of the existing membership.
(c) Membership organization.
(1) The term “membership organization” means a corporation, association, federation, or other similar organization meeting the following requirements:
(i) It is organized without capital stock of any kind.
(ii) Its charter, bylaws, or other written agreement or contract expressly prohibits the distribution of any part of the net earnings directly or indirectly, in money, property, or services, to any member, and
(3) If a corporation, association, federation, or other similar organization subsequent to the time it elects to report its prepaid dues income in accordance with the provisions of section 456, (i) issues any kind of capital stock either to any member or nonmember, (ii) amends its charter, bylaws, or other written agreement or contract to permit distributions of its net earnings to any member or, (iii) in fact, distributes any part of its net earnings either in money, property, or services to any member, then immediately after such event the organization shall not be considered a membership organization within the meaning of section 456(e)(3).
(d) Receipt of prepaid dues income. For purposes of section 456, prepaid dues income shall be treated as received during the taxable year for which it is includible in gross income under section 451, relating to the general rule for taxable year of inclusion, without regard to section 456.