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Category Archives: Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities

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Keeping Churches and Charities Nonpartisan – House Vote This Week, Senate Soon

Posted in Formation & Tax Exempt Status, IRS, Public Charities, Religious Institutions, Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities

As everyone has heard, Congress is moving rapidly on a tax reform bill.  Parts of it do affect nonprofit organizations and their donors:  some minor, some major, a few good, mostly bad. A central concern for many of our clients involves maintaining the absolute prohibition in the Internal Revenue Code on partisan engagement in elections,… Continue Reading

Tax Reform Affects Exempt Organizations

Posted in Charitable Gift Planning, Private Foundations, Public Charities, Religious Institutions, Revenue Generating Activities, Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities

The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday introduced its highly anticipated tax legislation, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  The Act proposes major changes to the Internal Revenue Code, including lowering the number of tax brackets, increasing the standard income tax deduction, and repealing or limiting other deductions.  You may have read about… Continue Reading

The Election Is Over. Now What?

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities

Before the election on November 8, you were well aware that your 501(c)(3) charity could not endorse candidates for public office or otherwise intervene in any election.  You carefully monitored your organization’s activities over the course of the campaign to comply with this requirement of your charity’s tax-exempt status.  The election is over, and Donald… Continue Reading

System Outages Cause Delays for Filing Form 8976; IRS Offers to Help Affected Organizations

Posted in AG, IRS, FTB, & Property Tax Proceedings, Formation & Tax Exempt Status, IRS, Nonprofit Governance & Ethics, Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Uncategorized

The initial deadline for new self-declared 501(c)(4) organizations to notify the IRS of their existence was September 6.  However, system outages on that day, and since, caused delays that may have prevented organizations from filing on time. The IRS released a statement today promising to “work with you to ensure that you are not subjected… Continue Reading

Nonprofits: Amplify Your Voice in the November Election with these Helpful Tips

Posted in Nonprofit Governance & Ethics, Private Foundations, Public Charities, Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Uncategorized, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

Our friends at California Association of Nonprofits have some creative tips for how nonprofits can make their voices heard on Election Day, and some resources to help.  Check it out!

Section 501(c)(4) Notice Requirement: IRS Implements New Notice System for Organizations Claiming Exemption Under Section 501(c)(4), Announces Updated Compliance Deadlines

Posted in AG, IRS, FTB, & Property Tax Proceedings, Formation & Tax Exempt Status, IRS, Nonprofit Structures, Relationships & Transactions, Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities

The IRS has finally caught up with Congress with respect to the new notice requirement for new organizations claiming exemption under Section 501(c)(4).  Narrowly (?) missing its self-imposed July 1 deadline for implementing this requirement, the IRS last week released new temporary (and proposed) regulations, a Revenue Procedure (Rev. Proc. 2016-41) explaining the notification system,… Continue Reading

IRS to Roll Out New Section 501(c)(4) Notice System on July 1?

Posted in AG, IRS, FTB, & Property Tax Proceedings, Formation & Tax Exempt Status, IRS, Nonprofit Structures, Relationships & Transactions, Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities

A while back, we blogged about a new notification requirement for organizations claiming exemption under Section 501(c)(4) imposed by Congress’s adoption last December of the PATH Act of 2015.  The Path Act created a new section of the Internal Revenue Code, Section 506, which requires new and certain existing (see below) Section 501(c)(4) organizations to… Continue Reading

Independent Sector Webinar, April 19, on Charities and Elections

Posted in Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities

Independent Sector, a leading national organization of nonprofits, will host a webinar on Tuesday, April 19, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time (11:00 a.m. Pacific) on the topic “How 501(c)(3)s Can Engage with Candidates and Voters.” On the panel, our own Greg Colvin will cover the basic do’s and don’ts, and describe nonpartisan ways that charities can… Continue Reading

Congress Missed a Valuable Opportunity: Greg Colvin and Others Discuss Congress’ Refusal to Fund Regulations on Section 501(c)(4)

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

On February 8, Tax Analysts published an article titled Confusion Over Judging Political Activity Still Reigns at IRS.  In the article, Paul C. Barton describes the prohibition that appeared in the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act against using any fiscal year federal funds “to issue, revise, or finalize any regulation, revenue ruling, or other guidance …… Continue Reading

Proposition C Impacts Nonprofit Organizations Lobbying in San Francisco

Posted in Nonprofit Governance & Ethics, Public Charities, Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

The City and County of San Francisco’s lobbying ordinance (Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code §§2.100-155) currently requires any person influencing local legislative or administrative actions through contacts with city officials or their staff to register with the Ethics Commission, but the ordinance provides an exemption for certain nonprofits (all 501(c)(3)s and some smaller 501(c)(4)s). The… Continue Reading

IRS Commissioner Hints at Timing for New Political Regulations, Summarizes Thousands of Public Comments

Posted in AG, IRS, FTB, & Property Tax Proceedings, Private Foundations, Public Charities, Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities, Unions, Associations, Clubs & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

We looked at IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s written statement to the Senate Finance Committee, with attached documents, submitted with his testimony on Tuesday, October 27, at http://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/27OCT2015Koskinen.pdf. Here’s what’s newsworthy: First, from the Commissioner’s oral testimony and from his prepared statement, the IRS and Treasury have not been intimidated by Republican calls to discontinue the… Continue Reading

A Smart Pitch for Nonprofit Advocacy

Posted in Grantmaking & Social Investing, Private Foundations, Public Charities, Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities

Campion Foundation Trustee Sonya Campion recently made an intelligent pitch for private foundation directors, and their institutions, to arm themselves with knowledge about the rules governing advocacy by foundations and their grantees, and to use the powerful tools that the tax code provides for funding change.  We couldn’t agree more! Want to get started?  These free… Continue Reading

Senate Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee Hearing on IRS and Political Tax Law

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

I had the honor of testifying in Washington, D.C., on July 29, 2015, before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, chaired by Senator Ted Cruz, about the current IRS work on developing regulations to define political campaign activity for tax-exempts.  (The picture below shows us, the witnesses, being… Continue Reading

New Political Rules for 501(c)s in March 2015?

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

We daren’t get our hopes up, but… We heard through the grapevine that March 2015 is the release date for a second round of proposed rulemaking concerning Section 501(c) regulations relating to political campaign intervention.  Indeed, an online calendar at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget now… Continue Reading

Taxation of Exempts Publishes “Comments on Proposed Regulations Show Exempt Organizations’ Concerns” by Martha Lackritz

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

Taxation of Exempts recently published Martha Lackritz’s article Comments on Proposed Regulations Show Exempt Organizations’ Concerns.  In her article, Martha surveys a sample of the over 170,000-plus comments eventually submitted by the public to the IRS in response to its proposed regulations on candidate-related political activities of social welfare organizations.  If you have yet to… Continue Reading

Do’s & Don’ts: Public Charities in an Election Year

Posted in Public Charities, Tax Treatment of Lobbying & Political Activities

You’re a public charity.  Maybe you’re brand new; or maybe you’ve existed for years but suddenly have an issue your constituents need to know about on the ballot this year.  Maybe one of your Board members is a candidate for elective office.  Maybe you’d like to host a debate.  Maybe you want to register your… Continue Reading

Revised Rules on 501(c)(4)s and Political Activity Expected in Early 2015

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

Earlier this week, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen explained in an interview with the Center for Public Integrity that the IRS expects to complete revised proposed regulations defining political activity for 501(c)(4) (and possibly other types of 501(c)) organizations by early 2015.  The Center for Public Integrity reports that Koskinen elaborated on the nature of the… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #1 — American Bar Association Section of Taxation

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

“Promulgating regulations with clear rules regarding political intervention or candidate-related political activity could help the government to avoid constitutional attacks on the grounds of vagueness. . . . Such regulations are not unconstitutional.  Quite the contrary, they help remove doubts as to the constitutionality of Service guidance in this important area.” Our countdown closes with… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #2 — Bright Lines Project

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

“We don’t want a bad political definition for 501(c)(4) organizations, rather we want a good definition for everybody.” So, we admit to a bias on this one.  Greg Colvin is chair of the Bright Lines Project (“BLP”) Drafting Committee, whose nine members include Rosemary Fei, also a principal in our firm.  Having said that, here… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #3 — Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org)

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

“Over the last four election cycles, the amount of spending by 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations in particular has grown dramatically.  In 2006, just $1.3 million in political spending was reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by 501(c)(4) organizations, while by the 2010 cycle, that total had risen to $92 million.  In 2012, the number more than… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #4 — NAACP and NAACP-National Voter Fund

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

“ . . . much of the work that the NAACP did in the early years to combat racial discrimination in the administration of our nation’s voting laws would be illegal under the proposed regulations.” The concise and eloquent comments by the NAACP and its 501(c)(3) affiliate, the NAACP-National Voter Fund, are among the most… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #5 — American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)

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

“The confidence of exempt organizations, tax preparers, and the public, in the enforcement of tax laws, is diminished when the application of these laws [is] unclear or difficult to understand.” The AICPA is the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession, with more than 394,000 members in 128 countries and a 125-year history.  Their brief… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #6 — Independent Sector

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

“We encourage the IRS to engage tax-exempt organizations in a meaningful dialogue to address the many concerns expressed during this comment process, and provide the public an opportunity to provide input on a revised proposed rule that better defines permissible political activity while preserving the important advocacy role and vital voice of tax-exempt organizations in… Continue Reading

Top 25 Comments on IRS Proposed Political Activity Rules: #7 — American Civil Liberties Union

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

 “ . . . we urge the Service to abandon both the approach in the proposed rule and the existing ‘facts and circumstances’ test.  We respectfully submit that the Service needs to offer a clear and easily interpreted rule on what constitutes express advocacy and a firm answer on how much such activity will result… Continue Reading