Legal Status

Acorn is organized as a corporation in Virginia. All the property of the community is owned by the corporation: the land, the buildings, the business, the cars and tractors, the kitchen ware, the garden tools, etc etc. The corporation is controlled by the members via the consensus meetings, but no member owns the corporation or has a specific divisible financial interest in it. In short, no one owns Acorn because everyone owns Acorn (among the members, that is). Although most property of note is owned communally, members still own their own personal effects (clothes, toothbrush, or whatever else they feel like stashing in their bedroom).

According to the IRS, Acorn is organized as a 501(d) non-profit organization. This tax status, created for the Shakers or monastery’s, is a super obscure tax status applicable only to religious organizations with a common treasury. Although we are a secular organization we believe strongly in egalitarianism, democracy, feminism, and responsible stewardship of the environment and that is enough for the IRS, no god necessary. Although we have a non-profit tax status, donations are not tax deductible and we do pay taxes (you’re thinking of a 501(c)3 non-profit). Our taxes are significantly reduced by the status, however.

Most of the communities in the Federation of Egalitarian Communities are 501(d) organizations, but not all.


Internal Revenue Code 501(d) Religious and apostolic organizations

The following organizations are referred to in subsection (a): Religious or apostolic associations or corporations, if such associations or corporations have a common treasury or community treasury, even if such associations or corporations engage in business for the common benefit of the members, but only if the members thereof include (at the time of filing their returns) in their gross income their entire pro rata shares, whether distributed or not, of the taxable income of the association or corporation for such year. Any amount so included in the gross income of a member shall be treated as a dividend received.