Nonprofit Law Matters

Monthly Archives: April 2014

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #8 — Alliance for Justice

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

“AFJ strongly believes that the proposal in the NPRM to redefine the meaning of ‘social welfare’ activity so as to exclude certain nonpartisan election-related activity goes beyond the statutory authority provided by Congress and will deter a wide-array of legitimate activity which has long-been recognized as promoting the general welfare of the community.” Alliance for… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #9 — Bipartisan NPRM Comments

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

“The proposed rules treat as political a host of activities that are now and should continue to be defined as non-political, rather than discarding years of IRS rulings, guidance and precedent . . . .” The variety of organizations that signed on to these brief comments attests to the widespread dissatisfaction with the proposed rules.  The comments were developed… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #10 — Ottinger Foundation, The Leonard and Sophie Davis Fund, and The Woodbury Fund

Posted in Private Foundations, Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

 “[T]he proper course for the IRS is ‘to mend it, not end it.’” The comments submitted by these three family foundations (Ottinger Foundation, The Leonard and Sophie Davis Fund, and The Woodbury Fund) elegantly reflect the concerns of grantmakers that fund nonpartisan voter education, as well as charities seeking to “curb the corrupting influence of… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #11 — The Trade Association Perspective

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

“Given that any rule adopted for 501(c)(4) entities pertaining to political activity could be applied by the IRS and tax law practitioners by analogy (if not directly) to other tax-exempt organizations, the adoption of the proposed rules would severely restrict the advocacy and civic activities of 501(c)(6) trade associations … undermining their core purpose.” —… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #12 – Tax-Exempt Organization Attorneys

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

“Each of us in our respective practices representing 501(c) organizations is all too familiar with the problems related to existing law and guidance on exempt-organization political activity. ….  Because the law itself is not clear, we often find ourselves unable to give our clients the clear answers they seek and should reasonably expect.” 21 prominent… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #13 — Center for Competitive Politics

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

“A rule should respect Supreme Court precedent, comport with the Internal Revenue Code, provide clear guidance, be simple to understand and implement, and provide for equitable enforcement.” The Center for Competitive Politics submitted thorough comments that address multiple constitutional concerns, and include their very own proposed rules for consideration by the IRS.  CCP’s rules outline… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #14 — Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation

Posted in Private Foundations, Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

“The revised proposal should apply universally to all tax categories and make clear that nonpartisan civic engagement is not considered political activity.” The Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation (FCCP), an Oregon-based coalition of grantmakers, provides a concise summary of the overarching dangers of adopting the proposed rules in their current form.  FCCP’s focus is on… Continue Reading

Proposed San Francisco Ordinance Would Impose Significant New Disclosure Obligations on Nonprofits That Interact with City Officials

Posted in Private Foundations, Public Charities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

A recent proposal by San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu would impose significant new disclosure obligations on nonprofits that have business with the City and County of San Francisco.  Apparently intended to target communications and expenditures made by or on behalf of certain developers seeking to influence public officials, the proposal in its… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #15 — FEC Commissioners

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

We take this opportunity to combine two very different comments, both from members of the Federal Election Commission. Three (Republican) FEC Commissioners “In our experience, both as FEC Commissioners and in our previous roles as counsel to participants in the political process, we cannot emphasize enough the need to comply with the congressional call for… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #16 — Some Religious Perspectives

Posted in Religious Institutions, Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability “While the Treasury and the IRS seek greater clarity by further restricting the types of permissible political activity of tax-exempt organizations, the Commission [on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations] would achieve greater clarity by allowing more freedom for tax-exempt organizations to engage in political speech—while simultaneously preserving the long-held… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #17 – The League of Women Voters of the United States

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

“In a democratic country, where government is based on the consent of the governed, there is a vital role for 501(c)(4) organizations to play in providing truly nonpartisan services to voters.” Many state chapters of the League of Women Voters filed comments.  We note the comments of the national umbrella organization here for the organization’s historic… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #18 — Nonprofit VOTE, Project VOTE, and Rock the Vote

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

 “It has never been more important, since the Supreme Court declared in Citizens United that election laws cannot prohibit corporations from independent political spending, for our tax laws to plainly identify what may and may not be funded with tax-free money.” — Ashley Spillane, Executive Director, Rock the Vote Together, these three organizations provide an… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #19 — National Rifle Association

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

“This ‘keep-’em-guessing’ facts-and-circumstance test is intolerable and must be replaced. … Particularly with respect to tax laws that affect First Amendment rights, a system that has clear, comprehensible lines is essential.” As a threshold matter, the NRA notes in its comments that its ongoing compliance with the tax law has been extraordinarily expensive and time-consuming,… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #20 — Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Public Citizen, Democracy 21, Campaign Legal Center

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

“Conformity with the statute requires that the IRS amend its regulation to require that § 501(c)(4) organizations pursue promotion of social welfare to the exclusion of other activities, including electoral activity, that do not constitute promotion of social welfare; or, at most, that such non-social welfare activities be de minimis and insubstantial.” This group had previously… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #21 — The Arc of the U.S.

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

“We need to ensure that organizations are clearly free to pursue and publicize their legitimate public policy work with lawmakers and on proposed legislation regardless of whether a primary or general election will occur within a certain time period.  We need clear definitions of political intervention that apply consistently across the tax code and that… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #22 — 501(c)(4) Organization Joint Comments

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

 “…the IRS should adopt one consistent definition of political activity that applies only to activities truly partisan in nature and which does not interfere with the ability of exempt organizations to engage in valuable civic engagement and advocacy.” This prominent group of longstanding social welfare organizations (Sierra Club, Human Rights Campaign, League of Conservation Voters,… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #23 – Over 25,000 Public Citizen Activists

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

 “Don’t let political operatives hide who’s funding their partisan political smears and attack ads!” This particular comment is even shorter than that of Stephen Colbert.  We think it worth including in our list, however, for the sheer number of signers.  25,054 supporters of Public Citizen signed onto a petition to support the rulemaking and to call… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #24 – Council on Foundations

Posted in Private Foundations, Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

“At a time when the influence of big money in our election cycles has never been more pronounced, foundations and nonprofit organizations have an essential role to play in helping to educate and empower everyday citizens to make their voices heard.” The Council on Foundations represents over 1,700 different public and private foundations across the… Continue Reading

IRS Proposed Rules for 501(c)(4)s and Other Tax-Exempts: Our Top 25 Comments Countdown

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

More than 140,000 comments were filed online by February 27, 2014, reacting to the IRS/Treasury proposal to define “candidate-related political activity” for 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations.  The IRS also posed questions concerning what the upper limit of candidate-related political activity should be (opinions range between 49% and zero), and whether the definition should apply to… Continue Reading