Congressional hearing to examine tax-exempt segment

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The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing to examine the tax-exempt sector to ensure it is "living up to its legal responsibility," said committee Chairman Congressman Bill Thomas (R-CA).

The hearing set for April 20 will focus on the legal history of the tax-exempt sector; its size, scope and impact on the economy; the need for congressional oversight; IRS oversight of the sector; and what the Internal Revenue Service is doing to improve compliance with the law, according to an advisory released by the committee.

More than 1.8 million organizations claim tax-exempt status under 501(c) of the tax code, according to the IRS.  This figure does not include churches and religious organizations. About 27% of nursing homes claim tax-exempt status.

The assets of tax-exempt organizations grew from $2 trillion to more than $3 trillion between 1998 and 2002, according to the IRS. Twenty-eight tax-exempt categories currently exist under 501(c).