People's Educational Camp Society, Inc. v. CIR, 63

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
Citation331 F.2d 923
Docket NumberDocket 28264.,No. 63,63
Decision Date24 April 1964

331 F.2d 923 (1964)


No. 63, Docket 28264.

United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit.

Argued December 10, 1963.

Decided April 24, 1964.

331 F.2d 924
331 F.2d 925
I. Herman Sher, New York City, for petitioner

Louis F. Oberdorfer, Asst. Atty. Gen., John B. Jones, Jr., Meyer Rothwacks, Attys., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., for respondent.

Before WATERMAN,* SMITH and HAYS, Circuit Judges.

WATERMAN, Circuit Judge.

This is a petition to review a decision of the Tax Court of the United States which upheld the Commissioner of Internal Revenue's determination of a deficiency of $25,784.43 in the federal income tax of petitioner, People's Educational Camp Society, Inc., for its fiscal year ending September 30, 1956. The Tax Court rejected petitioner's claim that it was exempt from the income tax under Section 501(c) (4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 as a nonprofit civic organization operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, rejecting it on the ground that such an exemption was precluded because of the relationship which petitioner's operation of a large commercial resort bore to its totality of activities. We agree that petitioner was not entitled to the exemption.

A complete statement of the facts surrounding petitioner's operations, including a detailed breakdown of its financial activities, can be found in the opinion of the Tax Court, reported at 39 T.C. 756. Our summary thereof follows:

Petitioner is a New York membership corporation with its principal offices in New York City. It was organized in 1920 by persons associated with the Rand School of Social Science, an institution then operated by the American Socialist Society and engaged in conducting adult classes and presenting lectures and programs related to the dissemination of information on the labor movement and socialist principles. During 1920 officials and friends of the Rand School became interested in purchasing a tract of 2,196 acres of land in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, with an eye toward developing on the tract a campsite where the Rand School's faculty, students and friends might gather during the summers to carry on their studies and develop programs in which they were interested. After the school's executive secretary had acquired an option to purchase the land for about $21,000, petitioner was organized to take title to the property and develop the summer camp, which was eventually given the name "Tamiment," the name of a lake nearby.

331 F.2d 926

Petitioner, organized as a New York membership corporation, has never issued any shares of stock and has never had any stockholders. Its operations are conducted by a group of individuals known as members, whose number may never exceed 35 and whose election to membership is governed by petitioner's by-laws. Any person may be elected to membership who has publicly endorsed the principles of socialism for at least two years, and whose membership has been recommended by petitioner's Board of Directors and has been approved by those persons already members. None of petitioner's officers or directors receive any salary or other compensation, but the managing director and associate director, who conduct petitioner's day-to-day operations, do receive salaries as do petitioner's other employees.

When petitioner was organized its certificate of incorporation set forth its objects in the following terms:

"To organize, conduct and maintain summer camps and centers for instructive and recreative purposes; to build, purchase, own, lease, manage and operate camps, dormitories, dining halls, recreation rooms, play grounds, reading rooms, halls and other buildings for the purpose of said corporation as herein set forth; to diffuse a general knowledge of literature, art and science through the medium of lectures, publications and dramatic performances; to borrow money for the corporate purposes of the corporation and to issue bonds, notes or other evidences of indebtedness therefor; to assist other educational, civic, political and economic movements and organizations; to cooperate with such organizations and movements and to initiate such movements, but said purposes shall not extend to those objects for which corporations may be formed pursuant to the Education Law, nor shall any activities of the said corporation be conducted for pecuniary profit to its members."1

As of the time of the Tax Court proceedings below, petitioner's by-laws provided that upon dissolution all its property was to revert to the American Socialist Society, although that Society, along with its Rand School of Social Science, had ceased to exist in 1956. As of this time no steps had been taken to amend the portion of the by-laws relating to the disposition of petitioner's property upon dissolution, nor had any alternative plan for dissolution been contemplated.2

From the opening of Camp Tamiment for occupancy in July of 1921, it began to experience considerable growth. During its first twenty years its growth was steady though moderate. By 1941 the camp's annual gross income had increased to $281,633.87, and the value of its fixed assets had increased to $398,663.93. Except for the years 1925 and 1932, when small losses were incurred, Tamiment has each year consistently shown a profit, and, except for the period from 1921 to 1923 when petitioner received contributions, it has been entirely self-sustaining. In January of 1936, and again in January of 1939, petitioner obtained rulings from the Commissioner of Internal Revenue that, on the basis of facts then available, petitioner was entitled to an exemption under the then existing provisions of the tax laws, provisions which later came to be embodied in

331 F.2d 927
substantially the same form in Section 501(c) (4) of the 1954 Code

Tamiment's operations from 1941 through the taxable year 1956 represented a second distinct phase of its development, one marked by a growth much more rapid and substantial than that previously experienced. This was manifested by considerable increases in operating expenses and in the value of petitioner's fixed assets and accumulated surplus. An analysis of petitioner's balance sheet figures for these years shows that petitioner's assets, which stood at $398,663.93 in 1941, had increased to $1,124,229.91 by 1951. By the end of the taxable year 1956,3 the year here under discussion, these assets had grown to $2,301,604.74. During these same periods petitioner's surplus, designated in its balance sheet as "reserves," had increased from $311,079.97 in 1941, to $1,573,452.14 in 1951, and to $2,226,080.50 in 1956. Petitioner's annual revenues showed like increases after 1941, with the figures for petitioner's total gross revenues from all sources for 1941, 1951, and 1956 being, respectively, $290,804.60, $840,364.23, and $942,632.55.4 The overwhelming portion of petitioner's gross revenues5 and expenses6 during the period under examination, as well as of the increase in the value of its assets, was connected solely with the operation of Tamiment.

By the year 1956 Tamiment had become the largest and one of the most modern summer vacation resorts in Pennsylvania, with rates ranging from $12 to $19 per day per person. As already noted, the American Socialist Society and the Rand School of Social Science, the motivating forces behind the creation of Tamiment as a site for summer retreats, had both ceased to exist. The resort was open to the public and competed with other vacation resorts in the Poconos. It employed more than 400 persons during the peak season and it advertised itself through newspapers, magazines and brochures as "Tamiment in the Poconos."

Tamiment's principal guest quarters in 1956 consisted of more than 160 furnished cottages, capable of accommodating about 900 persons, and located adjacent to a dining hall with a seating capacity of 1000. Set apart from the main complex of cottages was a group of bungalows known as Sandyville, designed for use by families with children, and which adjoined a play school and a small store. The other physical facilities which dotted Tamiment's grounds were of the type not uncommon to luxury vacation

331 F.2d 928
resorts catering to a young adult clientele: an administration building; a library; a lecture and concert hall; a ballroom building; an 18-hole golf course with a clubhouse containing a cocktail lounge; another clubhouse and dining terrace overlooking Lake Tamiment; a theater building; and facilities for various outdoor sports

Also, Tamiment's activities included organized programs in the fields of drama, music and art, all available to guests of the resort free of charge. On Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons the theater building was the scene of a dramatic or musical production staged by a theater group employed by petitioner for that purpose, and throughout the rest of the week the building was used for the exhibition of motion pictures. Orchestras hired on theater evenings to play for musical comedies and revues were customarily used after the performances to provide music at dances. Each week during the summer season vocalists and musicians performed concerts or gave recitals, and a lecture dealing with a topic connected with the arts or with public affairs was also weekly fare for those staying at the resort. Throughout each summer season an art director employed by petitioner gave free art instruction to interested guests, and professional artists were invited to display their works there and offer them for sale.

The most outstanding single cultural attraction at Tamiment was presented each year early in the summer vacation season, a chamber music festival featuring an orchestra and string quartet. The festival was open to members of the general public as well as Tamiment's paying guests, but a moderate fee...

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