Charitable organizations, including private foundations and public charities, have long been subject to scrutiny by the government, private citizens and even other charitable organizations. Critics have alleged that such organizations sometimes further private interests instead of the public good, often do not actually accomplish charitable goals and sometimes exacerbate tax inequities. In the 1960s, Congress became concerned that abuses were occurring in particular with private foundations. Because private foundations faced limited external scrutiny, as compared with public charities, Congress feared that abuse by managers of private foundations could pass undetected more easily than in the public charity context. In 1969, with the Tax Reform Act of 1969, Pub. L. No. 91-172, 83 Stat. 487 (1969), Congress enacted Code §§ 507-509 and Code §§ 4940-4947, which generally prohibit self-dealing transactions and impose a host of additional restrictions on private foundations.

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