Surprise Tax Hits Churches, Other Nonprofits

In the final months of 2017, the GOP majorities in the House and Senate rushed to throw together and pass tax legislation before the end of the year.  What became the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts of 2017 (“TCJA”) was a hodge-podge of items that had been on various Republican taxation wish lists for some time. The legislation was written, rewritten, revised, and amended at break-neck speed with no Democratic input and Read More

Johnson Amendment: Backdoor Repeal on the Table

During the 2016 presidential campaign, the Republican nominee fired up his evangelical supporters with a promise to repeal the Johnson Amendment, the brief phrase at the end of Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) that bans any political-campaign activity.   At the first National Prayer Breakfast of the new Administration, he told the gathered group that he would “get rid of and totally destroy” it.  In the Read More

Maybe ‘Never Mind' about That 501(c)(3) Ban on Politics

We may be on the verge of an Emily Litella moment: “Never Mind.” For readers not old enough to remember Saturday Night Live in the 1970’s, there was a popular sketch character played some 26 times by the late Gilda Radner. She is an “elderly woman with a hearing problem, … attired in a frumpy dress, sweater, and [old-fashioned] glasses.” She would pop up in the Weekend Update segment,  “introduced with professional Read More

Political Activities and 501(c)(3)s: What’s Allowable, Part 5

As part of our series on some of the dicier aspects of the political campaign intervention ban in section 501(c)(3), we’ve used Revenue Ruling 2007-41 as a guide. In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we reviewed certain categories of activities that are outside the scope of the politics ban; that is, (1) voter-registration and “get-out-the-vote” drives (conducted in a neutral, nonpartisan manner); and (2) candidate Read More

Political Activities and 501(c)(3)s: What’s Allowable, Part 4

Now that we’re in the last few months of an election season that is one of the most highly charged in recent memory, it’s important to review the application of the political campaign activities ban in section 501(c)(3). The mere 31 words of the 132-word section 501(c)(3) - tacked on almost as an afterthought by floor amendment in the 1954 overhaul of the tax code - may appear clear on its face, but it’s tough to Read More

Political Activities and 501(c)(3)s: What’s Allowable, Part 3

Now that we’re in the last few months of an election season that is one of the most highly charged in recent memory, it’s important to review the application of the political campaign activities ban in section 501(c)(3). The mere 31 words of the 132-word section 501(c)(3) - tacked on almost as an afterthought by floor amendment in the 1954 overhaul of the tax code - may appear clear on its face, but it’s tough to Read More

Political Activities and 501(c)(3)s: What’s Allowable, Part 2

The absolute ban in section 501(c)(3) of political campaign activities takes on special importance now that we’re in the middle of an election season with hotly contested, emotionally charged, and divisive races at all levels of government. For a bit of background on the how this rigid prohibition came about, see “The Political Ban in 501(c)(3): Its Odd History.” There are a few types of politics-related activities Read More

One of those Days . . .

It was the Monday morning after a hugely successful weekend fundraiser. The executive director of the nonprofit drug-recovery facility arrived early at her office -- eager to start implementing new programs now possible because of the generosity of donors. Her mood changed abruptly, though, when a prominent local attorney called. A volunteer from the gala’s steering committee had taken it upon himself to post event Read More