Paul L. Caron

Monday, October 18, 2010

NY Times: § 501(c)(4) Groups Push Tax Code Limits in Political Ads

New York Times, Groups Push Legal Limits in Advertising, by Michael Luo:

The basic rule of thumb for nonprofit groups organized under Section 501(c) of the tax code is that more than 50% of their annual activities cannot be political. Although it is a matter of debate how spending on traditional issue ads would be categorized by the IRS, it is indisputable that spending on express advocacy would be classified as political.

An analysis by The New York Times of data provided by the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political and issue-related advertising, found at least two major Republican-leaning groups, the American Future Fund and the 60 Plus Association, which bills itself as a conservative alternative to AARP, have now devoted more than half of their spending this year on television advertising for express advocacy.

Other organizations, including Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit group tied to Karl Rove, and Americans for Job Security, a Republican-oriented trade association, have been flirting relatively close to that threshold as well.

Even operating just under that dividing line, however, does not mean they are safe, because it is possible the IRS, in particular, could classify many of their issue ads as political too, Democratic and Republican campaign finance lawyers said. ... Several lawyers said that while the 50 percent limit is widely cited, the IRS has never explicitly ruled that 50 percent is the official limit for political spending. It could, in fact, be less.

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Thanks, Mike, but given the liberal, elitist attitudes that rule most universities, I'd last about one day. Could you get me tenure in advance, perhaps?

Posted by: Woody | Oct 18, 2010 7:59:54 PM

Woody, when are you going to hit the teaching market, I'll hand carry your resume straight to our hiring committee!

Posted by: mike livingston | Oct 18, 2010 2:41:53 PM

The NY Times hates free speech when it's used by conservatives. Liberals and Marxists? Not even mentioned. Why, the NYT, itself, could be considered a political organization using half of its proceeds to elect Democrats.

"Community organizers" have been dipping their fists into the taxpayer trough for years and pulling out money for left-wing political purposes all that they want. And, unions are major political arms of the Democrats using dues extorted from members, especially from those who do not live in right-to-work states. The NY Times has hardly recognized any of ACORN's and SEIU's political shenanigans.

But, if they want to audit some, let's just look at them all.

Posted by: Woody | Oct 18, 2010 7:48:47 AM