People’s Grocery is a West Oakland-based nonprofit organization that provides access to healthy, affordable food and education about nutrition and health-related topics. The West Oakland community has high rates of poverty and a lack of basic resources such as grocery stores. As a result, West Oakland residents have limited access to fresh and healthy foods and suffer high rates of diabetes, heart disease, and other health conditions linked to diet.

People’s Grocery engaged the Insight Center to file its tax-exemption application after an Insight Center attorney reviewed a draft developed by a non-attorney and found that it required extensive revision. The tax-exemption application required extensive detail and citation to precedent because many of the organization’s activities risked IRS classification as business operations. The application was further complicated by the fact that it was being filed late. People’s Grocery had received inconsistent support in preparing its tax-exemption application and more than 27 months had passed since its incorporation, creating the risk that it would be subject to back taxes if it was not able to obtain a retroactive exemption at IRS discretion.


Insight Center attorneys worked closely with People’s Grocery staff to complete and file the application before a filing-fee increase went into effect. The application was filed on time and People’s Grocery received its tax exemption retroactive to its date of incorporation, enabling the organization to move forward with its programmatic and fund-raising efforts.