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IRS Clarifies Charity Lobbying, Requests Form 990 Comments

WASHINGTON (AFP eWire - Feb. 17, 2004) - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued two documents related to lobbying by charities during an election year and how much time it takes to complete the Form 990.

Recently, the IRS issued Revenue Ruling 2004-6, which clarifies that charities do not have to stop lobbying government officials simply because those officials are up for re-election. However, charities must ensure that their lobbying efforts do not imply either support or opposition for a particular candidate.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, social welfare organizations, unions and trade associations generally are permitted to engage in advocacy or lobbying related to their exempt purposes. However, they may engage in only limited political campaign activity. The Revenue Ruling and its guidance clarifies the tax implications of advocacy that meets the definition of political campaign activity.

The Ruling contains examples of what is and is not permissible under the Internal Revenue Code. The Ruling is available online in PDF format.

Request for Comments on Charity Forms

The IRS is also asking for comments regarding the paperwork and administrative burden placed on charities in completing various tax forms and documents. The forms under consideration include the Form 990, including Schedule A (used to elicit special information from 501(c)(3) organizations) and Schedule B (used by charities to list major contributors).

The IRS is asking for comments as to whether or not the information collected on the forms is necessary or of practical value, ways to improve or enhance the quality of information collected and methods of minimizing the burden placed on charities in completing the forms.

Written comments are due on or before March 15, 2004, and may be addressed to Robert M. Coar, Internal Revenue Service, Room 5244, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20224.

For information or a copy of the forms and instructions for responding, please contact Carol Savage.

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