Comments on IRS Proposed Rules on Political Activity by 501(c)(4) Organizations

The Center has submitted comments asking the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department to develop rules that will preserve the rights of 501(c)(3) nonprofits to engage in nonpartisan civic engagement.  The Center’s comments are in response to proposed regulations on political activity by 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations.  The confusing language of the proposal would likely discourage foundations from supporting advocacy and civic engagement and cause many 501(c)(3)s to shy away from these important activities.  

The Center’s comments emphasize that:

  1. The IRS rules should be very clear that grassroots advocacy and nonpartisan voter registration, voter education, and get-out-the-vote activities are legal for 501(c)(3) nonprofits;
  2. The same definition of political activity should apply to all 501(c) organizations so that 501(c)(3) nonprofits, their funders, and the media aren’t confused by different, broader definitions that apply to 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations; and
  3. Contributions to 501(c)(3) nonprofits should not be considered political since charities are prohibited from partisan activities.