April 20, 2008
IRS Launches Political Activity Compliance Initiative for 2008 Election
The IRS has announced (IR-2008-61) that its Political Activities Compliance Initiative (PACI) once again will be in effect for the 2008 election season. The PACI program seeks to educate § 501(c)(3) organizations such as charities and churches about the federal law concerning political campaign activity and to enforce the law in this area.
By law, organizations exempt from tax under § 501(c)(3) may 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.” “We take very seriously our obligation to ensure that tax-exempt organizations have the information they need to make the right decisions about political campaign activities,” said Steven T. Miller, Commissioner of IRS’ Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division. ...
The IRS also has posted on its Web site a program letter to its Exempt Organizations employees. The letter explains the PACI objectives for 2008 and emphasizes the IRS’ priority both to educate the public and tax-exempt community about the law pertaining to political campaign intervention and to maintain a meaningful enforcement presence in this area. ...
In June 2007, the IRS released a Report on the Political Activity Compliance Initiative for the 2006 election cycle.
The Congressional Research Service has issued a report to Congress, Churches and Campaign Activity: Analysis Under Tax and Campaign Finance Laws (RL 34447):
This report examines the restrictions imposed on campaign activity by churches under tax and campaign finance laws, discusses recent IRS inquiries into such activity, and analyzes H.R. 2275 [, which repeal the political campaign prohibition in the tax code. If this bill were enacted into law, churches could engage in campaign activities without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status, but they would still be subject to applicable campaign finance laws.]
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