Churches, Charities, and Elections

These are highly charged political times.  The level of public political discourse is not the most erudite and leaves much to be desired.  To put it mildly, there is more heat than light these days. 

Times like these are such that nonprofit leaders must be more vigilant than ever about the prohibition against nonprofit organizations from engaging in political campaign activity

Under the Internal Revenue Code, 501(c)(3) organizations, including charities and churches, are prohibited from engaging in political campaign activity.  This was enacted by Congress in 1954 and later strengthened over the years to include a prohibition against issuing statements opposing individual candidates. 

The concept of the prohibition arises from a close reading of Section 501(c)(3), which defines a 501(c)(3) organization as one "which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office."

One may ask why nonprofit leaders should be concerned about violating this rule.

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