With the increased attention of an election-year, it is crucial that the nonprofit organizations attempting to push their issues to the forefront and mobilize public support remember the political activity boundaries the government has placed based on their tax-exempt status. On July 28, 2008, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released an internal memorandum regarding the examination of cases involving allegations against 501(c)(3) organizations (commonly referred to as “charitable organizations”) for engaging in political campaign activity on the Internet. IRS agents will now consider factors such as the “number of ‘clicks’ or electronic proximity between an exempt organization and the site of a political message” in order to assure that a 501(c)(3) organization is in accordance with the federal requirement that it is not an action organization, meaning that it “may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”
For more information on the IRS’ memorandum, visit the OMB Watch Advocacy Blog.
– Emily Chan