The Mathematical Association of America as well as all sections are recognized by the IRS as not-for-profits under the IRS code 501(C)3. This means that all can accept donations that are tax deductible to the donor to the extent allowed by law and that the financial transactions arising from conducting business within our non-profit mission is not subject to income tax. There are certain exceptions but this rule governs the vast majority of any actions that would likely be taken within our mission.
If a section is considering having a fund-raising program that includes soliciting contributions, this must be coordinated through the MAA national. There are significant regulatory issues that arise on a state level that the section would find difficult to administer given their limited resources and familiarity with such programs.
The IRS designation of 501(C)3 for the sections is within a group exemption ruling. This means that the status of the MAA national as a 501(C)3 is conferred onto the sections as long as they continue to operate within their non-profit mission. There is a mandatory obligation on the part of the MAA national to monitor the sections to ensure continued compliance with the requirements of a 501(c)3 which includes such items as monitoring financial activity (on a broad scale) and ensuring that no prohibited activities are undertaken by the sections including political campaigning, the expression of religious content or private inurement.
This IRS designation is federal and does not affect the tax status of any of the sections at the state or local level. Sales tax exemption is conferred on an entity on a state basis and is separate from the IRS designation as a non-profit. The sections do not have permanent addresses, do not employ any staff and usually do not meet the state criteria for organizations considered suitable for sales tax exemption. Unfortunately, each state has their own set of regulations governing this area with widely disparate requirements. For this reason, sales tax exemption for the sections has not been pursued as applying to all of the relevant states would have a limited likelihood of success.
None of the sections are incorporated but are considered unincorporated associations. The sections are linked to the MAA national through the bylaws and governance structure but are considered separate legal entities under the law.