Political Interventions
Actions Tax-Exempt Organizations Should Avoid

By Judy D. Lewis and Quepha Lynn

In a national election year, IRC section 501(c)(3) organizations play an important role in educating their members and the public at large about the issues and the candidates’ positions on those issues. Nevertheless, these organizations need to recognize the strict limits that the Internal Revenue Code imposes on their political activities.
The IRS has announced plans to increase its scrutiny of political
activity by tax-exempt organizations. It issued new guidance, Revenue Ruling 2007-41, to explain what constitutes prohibited “intervention” in the political process. Charitable organizations engaging in these prohibited activities jeopardize their tax-exempt status. It is important for tax-exempt organizations’ leaders and advisors to understand what distinguishes permissible education on political issues from disallowed intervention in political campaigns.

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