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Beyond the Market: Designing Nonmarket Accounts for the United States
because there are multiple uses for such imputations. Priority should be given to research that would lead to professional consensus on a small number of approaches for imputing values to unpriced governmental and nonprofit-sector outputs, and to developing methodologies for implementing each.
The BEA is already using a broad array of data sources to account for income and outlays of nonprofit institutions that serve households. Data on expenditures of nonprofit institutions originate from the Census Bureau’s quinquennial economic census and the annual economic surveys. Additional data sources are used to fill gaps for labor, political, religious, and educational organizations. The Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics disseminates information about the reports that tax-exempt institutions file with the IRS concerning their income, expenditures, and activities. Other data come from the American Association of Fundraising Counsel’s Trust for Philanthropy and surveys of charitable contributions to religious and other nonprofit organizations conducted by the Independent Sector.
To push research further, we note five areas in which further data development activity would be helpful. First, for documenting activity in the nonprofit sector, improved access is needed to existing administrative records—including forms that organizations file with the IRS, as well as other financial statements and records. The Urban Institute’s recent initiative has made the IRS Form 990 information easily accessible for anyone with an Internet connection, but there is other useful information that remains inaccessible. As an example, we support permitting access by researchers, under appropriate safeguards, to the confidential Form 990T data on commercial activity by nonprofit organizations that is “not substantially related” to its tax-exempt mission.5
Second, coordination of and access to data maintained by various nonprofit and government organizations can be improved. A good example of a situation that should be addressed is the lack of coordination between the BLS and the Census Bureau business lists. The Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 (CIPSEA) has facilitated some information sharing among the statistical agencies for statistical purposes. Unfortunately, until companion legislation that modifies existing IRS statutes is passed to allow the Census Bureau to share information based on tax records with other statistical agencies, much useful work will be stalled.
The Form 990T is required for all nonprofits that have revenue from “unrelated business income.” The Form 990T is, in effect, a profits-tax return. The Form 990 includes reported gross revenue from unrelated business income activity, but not costs or net revenue (profit). There has been considerable use of Form 990 data for research purposes, and some use of the confidential 990T data under special arrangement with the IRS.