Posted on October 2, 2014

Unless you are able to avoid all television ads, no doubt you have noticed that an election is coming up in Georgia. This is a good time to remind our clients that the IRS absolutely prohibits political campaign activity by 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. An adverse determination letter released by the IRS earlier this year provides several examples of what the IRS considers to be political campaign activity. In the letter, the IRS informed a charity that its 501(c)(3) status was being revoked because it made “repeated statements supporting or opposing various candidates by expressing its opinion of the respective candidate’s character and qualifications”. The numerous posts on the charity’s website that the IRS cited as political intervention included 2004 posts urging the reelection of the president and characterizing his opponent as “nothing but a skunk” and a “coward” whose character is “highly questionable.” While the IRS noted that some of the statements “supporting or opposing candidates” were not explicit, it concluded that “[t]here is no requirement under the section 501(c)(3) prohibition on political campaign intervention that such statements explicitly reference voting.”

For more information on IRS rules regarding political activity as well as lobbying and advocacy, check out the resources on the PBPA website.