Friday, June 22, 2012

political endorsements by churches

Election Year Activities and the Prohibition on Political Campaign Intervention for Section 501(c)(3) Organizations

FS-2006-17, February 2006 
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is releasing this fact sheet to provide information to help section 501(c)(3) organizations stay in compliance with the federal tax law. Many of the types of political intervention activities addressed in the fact sheet were those that came under scrutiny during the 2004 election cycle.  The contents reflect the IRS interpretation of tax laws enacted by Congress, Treasury regulations, and court decisions. The information is not comprehensive, however, and does not cover every situation.  Thus, it is not intended to replace the law or be the sole source of information.  The resolution of any particular issue may depend on the specific facts and circumstances of a given taxpayer. 
With the 2006 campaign season approaching, the IRS is launching enhanced education and enforcement efforts, based on the findings and analysis of the 2004 election cycle. The IRS is providing this fact sheet to help ensure that charities have enough advance notice of the types of problems that have occurred, the legal strictures against engaging in political activities and how to avoid these problems.
The IRS considers this fact sheet a living document, one that will be revised to take into account future developments and feedback.  This fact sheet is the beginning of the IRS effort to increase the educational material available to the community.  The IRS encourages comments which may be submitted to the IRS at the following addresses:
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20224
Churches should also see Publication 1828, Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations.
Election Year Activities and the Prohibition on Political Campaign Intervention for Section 501(c)(3) Organizations
During election campaigns, many churches, universities, hospitals, social service providers, and other section 501(c)(3) organizations are uncertain about the extent to which they can discuss issues of importance in the campaigns or interact with candidates for public office.  They are also uncertain about the role they can play in encouraging citizens to register and vote.  This fact sheet is intended to help organizations understand what they can and cannot do when an election campaign is under way. 
The Prohibition on Political Campaign Intervention
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.  The prohibition applies to all campaigns including campaigns at the federal, state and local level.  Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.  Those section 501(c)(3) organizations that are private foundations are subject to additional restrictions that are not described in this fact sheet.

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