26 CFR § 1.521-1 - Farmers' cooperative marketing and purchasing associations; requirements for exemption under section 521.
(1) Cooperative associations engaged in the marketing of farm products for farmers, fruit growers, livestock growers, dairymen, etc., and turning back to the producers the proceeds of the sales of their products, less the necessary operating expenses, on the basis of either the quantity or the value of the products furnished by them, are exempt from income tax except as otherwise provided in section 522, or part I, subchapter T chapter 1 of the Code, and the regulations thereunder. For instance, cooperative dairy companies which are engaged in collecting milk and disposing of it or the products thereof and distributing the proceeds, less necessary operating expenses, among the producers upon the basis of either the quantity or the value of milk or of butterfat in the milk furnished by such producers, are exempt from the tax. If the proceeds of the business are distributed in anyother way than on such a proportionate basis, the association does not meet the requirements of the Code and is not exempt. In other words, nonmember patrons must be treated the same as members insofar as the distribution of patronage dividends is concerned. Thus, if products are marketed for nonmember producers, the proceeds of the sale, less necessary operating expenses, must be returned to the patrons from the sale of whose goods such proceeds result, whether or not such patrons are members of the association. In order to show its cooperative nature and to establish compliance with the requirement of the Code that the proceeds of sales, less necessary expenses, be turned back to all producers on the basis of either the quantity or the value of the products furnished by them, it is necessary for such an association to keep permanent records of the business done both with members and non members. The Code does not require, however, that the association keep ledger accounts with each producer selling through the association. Any permanent records which show that the association was operating during the taxable year on a cooperative basis in the distribution of patronage dividends to all producers will suffice. While under the Code patronage dividends must be paid to all producers on the same basis, this requirement is complied with if an association instead of paying patronage dividends to nonmember producers incash, keeps permanent records from which the proportionate shares of the patronage dividends due to nonmember producers can be determined, and such shares are made applicable toward the purchase price of a share of stock or of a membership in the association. See, however, paragraph (c)(1) of § 1.1388-1 for the meaning of payment in money for purposes of qualifying a written notice of allocation.
(2) An association which has capital stock will not for such reason be denied exemption (i) if the dividend rate of such stock is fixed at not to exceed the legal rate of interest in the State of incorporation or 8 percent per annum, whichever is greater, on the value of the consideration for which the stock was issued, and (ii) if substantially all of such stock (with the exception noted below) is owned by producers who market their products or purchase their supplies and equipment through the association. Any ownership of stock by others than such actual producers must be satisfactorily explained in the association's application for exemption. The association will be required to show that the ownership of its capital stock has been restrictedas far as possible to such actual producers. If by statutory requirement all officers of an association must be shareholders, the ownership of a share of stock by a nonproducer to qualify him as an officer will not destroy the association's exemption. Likewise, if a shareholder for any reason ceases to be a producer and the association is unable, because of a constitutional restriction or prohibition or other reason beyond the control of the association, to purchase or retire the stock of such nonproducer, the fact that under such circumstances a small amount of the outstanding capital stock is owned by shareholders who are no longer producers will not destroy the exemption. The restriction placed on the ownership of capital stock of an exempt cooperative association shall not apply to nonvoting preferred stock, provided the owners of such stock are not entitled or permitted to participate, directly or indirectly, in the profits of the association, upon dissolution or otherwise, beyond the fixed dividends.
(3) The accumulation and maintenance of a reserve required by State statute, or the accumulation and maintenance of a reasonable reserve or surplus for any necessary purpose, such as to provide for the erection of buildings and facilities required in business or for the purchase and installation of machinery and equipment or to retire indebtedness incurred for such purposes, will not destroy the exemption. An association will not be denied exemption because it markets the products of non members, provided the value of the products marketed for non members does not exceed the value of the products marketed for members. Anyone who shares in the profits of a farmers' cooperative marketing association, and is entitled to participate in the management of the association, must be regarded as a member of such association within the meaning of section 521.
(b) Cooperative associations engaged in the purchasing of supplies and equipment for farmers, fruit growers, livestock growers, dairymen, etc., and turning over such supplies and equipment to them at actual cost, plus the necessary operating expenses, are exempt. The term supplies and equipment as used in section 521 includes groceries and all other goods and merchandise used by farmers in the operation and maintenance of a farm or farmer's household. The provisions of paragraph (a) of this section relating to a reserve or surplus and to capital stock shall apply to associations coming under this paragraph. An association which purchases supplies and equipment for nonmembers will not for such reason be denied exemption, provided the value of the purchases for nonmembers does not exceed the value of the supplies and equipment purchased for members, and provided the value of the purchases made for nonmembers who are not producers does not exceed 15 percent of the value of all its purchases.
(c) In order to be exempt under either paragraph (a) or (b) of this section an association must establish that it has no taxable income for its own account other than that reflected in a reserve or surplus authorized in paragraph (a) of this section. An association engaged both in marketing farm products and in purchasing supplies and equipment is exempt if as to each of its functions it meets the requirements of the Code. Business done for the United States or any of its agencies shall be disregarded in determining the right to exemption under section 521 and this section. An association to be entitled to exemption must not only be organized but actually operated in the manner and for the purposes specified in section 521.
(d) Cooperative organizations engaged in occupations dissimilar from those of farmers, fruit growers, and the like, are not exempt.
(e) An organization is not exempt from taxation under this section merely because it claims that it complies with the requirements prescribed therein. In order to establish its exemption every organization claiming exemption under section 521 is required to file a Form 1028. The Form 1028, executed in accordance with the instructions on the form or issued therewith, should be filed with the district director for the internal revenue district in which is located the principal place of business or principal office of the organization. However, an organization which has been granted exemption under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1939 or prior law may rely on that ruling, unless affected by substantive changes in the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 or any changes in the character, purposes, or methods of operation of the organization, and it is not necessary in such case for the organization to request a new determination as to its exempt status.
(f) A cooperative association will not be denied exemption merely because it makes payments solely in nonqualified written notices of allocation to those patrons who do not consent as provided in section 1388 and § 1.1388-1, but makes payments of 20 percent in cash and the remainder in qualified written notices of allocation to those patrons who do so consent. Nor will such an association be denied exemption merely because, in the case of patrons who have so consented, payments of less than $5 are made solely in nonqualified written notices of allocation while payments of $5 or more are made in the form of 20 percent in cash and the remainder in qualified written notices of allocation. In addition, a cooperative association will not be denied exemption if it pays a smaller amount of interest or dividends on nonqualified written notices of allocation held by persons who have not consented as provided in section 1388 and § 1.1388-1 (or on per-unit retain certificates issued to patrons who are not qualifying patrons with respect thereto within the meaning of § 1.61-5(d)(2)) than it pays on qualified written notices of allocation held by persons who have so consented (or on per-unit retain certificates issued to patrons who are qualifying patrons with respect thereto) provided that the amount of the interest or dividend reduction isreasonable in relation to the fact that the association receives no tax benefit with respect to such nonqualified written notices of allocation (or such certificates issued to nonqualifying patrons) until redeemed. However, such an association will be denied exemption if it otherwise treats patrons who have not consented (or are not qualifying patrons) differently from patrons who have consented (or are qualifying patrons), either with regard to the original payment or allocation or with regard to the redemption of written notices of allocation or per-unit retain certificates. For example, if such an association pays patronage dividends in the form of written notices of allocation accompanied by qualified checks, and provides that any patron who does not cash his check within a specified time will forfeit the portion of the patronage dividend represented by such check, then the cooperative association will be denied exemption under this section as it does not treat all patrons alike.