Category Archives: Nonprofits

Subscribe to Nonprofits RSS Feed

When the Convention Parties Are Over: How Public Charities Can Be Involved in the 2016 Elections and Talk about the Issues

Many issues important to public charities are addressed in the platforms adopted by the political parties. As Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties wrap up their conventions and the Green Party meets this week, charities are asking how they can talk about the issues raised in the platforms. Charities can advance their position on the issues … Continue Reading

The FEC Levels Fines on Nonprofits over Donor Disclosure

The question of when a politically-active, nonprofit 501(c)(4) group must publicly disclose its donors has been on the front burner in various states—most, like New York and California, have called for greater regulation, while others like Arizona have loosened the reins. At the federal level, silence has been the norm because the statute is generally read … Continue Reading

New Mandatory IRS Notification Process for 501(c)(4) Nonprofit Organizations Finally Announced

A substantial number of organizations exempt under Internal Revenue Code (Code) § 501(c)(4), and their individual officers and directors, may be subject to financial penalties if they do not file a Form 8976, Notice of Intent to Operate Under Section 501(c)(4), with the Internal Revenue Service (Service or IRS) on or before September 6, 2016. … Continue Reading

2016 Election: New Rules for Nonprofits in Arizona

For the rest of the 2016 election season, nonprofits in Arizona can be politically active without registering as a political committee. As long as they meet basic qualifications, nonprofits can run candidate ads, support ballot measures, and even make contributions, all without the burdens of registration, ongoing reports, and disclosure of donors. Arizona concluded its 2016 … Continue Reading

Election Year Tips for Employers

From now until the polls close on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, politics will be inescapably in the air – and in the workplace. Employees will be talking, and sometimes arguing, and sometimes participating in one campaign or another. Prudent employers should take note of what they may be required to do or prohibited from doing … Continue Reading

Too Close for Comfort? The IRS Gives New Guidance on 501(c)(3)s and Working with Candidates

Although it appears that rules governing the political activities of 501(c)(4) organizations will be some time in coming, the IRS recently provided some new insights into how 501(c)(3) organizations can – and cannot – interact with the political world.  In an adverse determination publicly released earlier this month, the IRS looked closely at how a … Continue Reading

Appeals Court Upholds Hawaii Corporate Disclosure Rules and Pay-to-Play Law

Last week the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld key provisions of Hawaii’s campaign finance laws requiring a for-profit company making campaign contributions and expenditures to register as a political committee, and prohibiting government contractors from contributing to state legislators and candidates. Broad Implications for Companies and Nonprofits Participating in Hawaii Elections Hawaii requires … Continue Reading

New Maryland Law Shines Light on Political Contributions by Government Contractors and their Principals, Also Hikes Contribution Limits and Regulates Nonprofits

The Maryland legislature overhauled the state’s campaign finance law almost two years ago, but many of the key provisions did not take effect until January 1, 2015. These changes significantly affect state government contractors by introducing a new electronic registration system overseen by the State Board of Elections, and requiring electronic reporting of contributions made … Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It: Venable’s Presentation on Election-Year Advocacy and Nonprofit Organizations

Ron Jacobs and Larry Norton presented “Election-Year Advocacy: Maintaining Your Nonprofit’s Clear Message in Cloudy Legal Seas,” a webinar covering topics for nonprofits engaged in political activity. It included topics such as: The rules that apply to 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) organizations and how those rules are changing; How to operate a political action committee (PAC), … Continue Reading

Venable Hosts Event on Nonprofit Organizations and Political Involvement – April 29

Please join us for a networking lunch and program (also available as a webinar) on April 29, 2014, at 12:00pm EDT in our Washington, D.C. office, which will provide a timely roadmap for nonprofit organizations that engage or are thinking about engaging in the political process. We will cover topics that you should be thinking … Continue Reading

FPPC goes after more committees in its “dark money” case

As we reported in November, the California Fair Political Practices Commission reached a settlement agreement with two entities (Center to Protect Patient Rights and Americans for Responsible Leadership) involved in a 2012 ballot measure. Those entities agreed to pay a $1 million fine. The FPPC said that it would require the entities that received the contributions, … Continue Reading

Down But Not Out: IRS Cites Political Activity in Denying Groups Tax-Exempt Status

The IRS recently denied tax-exempt status to two organizations based on their political activities. The two groups – whose names have been redacted from letters released by the agency – sought tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(4), which is reserved for “social welfare” groups whose primary purpose is to benefit the general community. Controversy has been … Continue Reading

You Can Still Tune-Up on Government Affairs Compliance

        In case you missed our webinar last week on government affairs compliance, you can click here for the recording and here for the presentation materials. We covered topics including: Creative ways to be involved in the political process;  Operating a compliant PAC; Federal and state lobbying compliance; Pay-to-play laws that affect … Continue Reading

501(c)(4) Proposed Regulations—An Unsafe Harbor

On November 26, the Department of Treasury released proposed regulations billed as “more definitive rules” for when the IRS will treat certain activities by section 501(c)(4) organization as political activity. It is hard to argue that the proposal provides some clarity, but only by classifying a wide variety of activities as candidate-related and therefore not qualifying … Continue Reading

Lessons Learned: How to Take 5 Successfully (or Not)

Last week, Lois Lerner, the now suspended Director of Exempt Organizations for the IRS, appeared before the House Oversight Committee. She gave a brief opening statement, in which she proclaimed that she had “not done nothing wrong” and that she had “not broken any laws.” Her lawyer had already informed the Committee that she would … Continue Reading

A Texas-Sized IRS Controversy? Governor Perry Vetoes Disclosure Legislation

It seems the IRS controversy has spilled into the states. Late last week Governor Rick Perry vetoed legislation that would have required the disclosure of high-level donors by many politically active organizations, including those exempt under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. After a Republican legislature passed the bill, there was a fevered internet grassroots … Continue Reading

IRS Fallout Continues: Where are we now?

It’s been less than three weeks since the IRS admitted to targeting applications for tax-exempt status filed by some conservative organizations. Much has happened since then on both the personnel front and with congressional oversight hearings. On the personnel front, the acting IRS commissioner (Steven Miller) resigned and the President named a new acting commissioner. The … Continue Reading

Think Your Advocacy Group is Not Subject to FEC Rules? Think Again.

A federal court last week ruled that a small nonprofit, formed under Wyoming law to advocate positions on various political issues, may have to include certain federally-mandated disclosures on its ads and fundraising appeals, and may even have to register and report as a federal political committee. The ruling is an important reminder that advocacy … Continue Reading

Learning More About Political Law

In case you missed our Political Law 101 webinar, you can listen to the recording and watch the presentation here. On April 16 we will host Public Policy and Politics: Compliance Tips for Your Nonprofit's Advocacy and Electoral Efforts as both a lunch seminar and webinar. Click here to register.… Continue Reading

NYS Regulator Hosts Roundtable on New Lobbying Disclosure Rules

The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (“JCOPE”), which oversees and regulates ethics and lobbying in New York, hosted the first in a series of roundtable discussions with the regulated community on March 8 (in Albany) and March 15 (in NYC). The March roundtable discussions focused on the new Reportable Business Relationship (“RBR”) … Continue Reading

Senator Levin to Pursue 501(c)(4)s Engaged in Campaign Activity

In the recent press release announcing his retirement, Senator Carl Levin announced that he will use his last two years running the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (“PSI”) to “encourage” the IRS to provide aggressive oversight of tax-exempt groups that are primarily engaged in politics. The prospect of hearings could potentially expose the inner workings of … Continue Reading

New York Pension Fund Sues Qualcomm to Force Disclosure of Political Spending

The New York State comptroller filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm on behalf of the New York State pension fund, a major Qualcomm shareholder and the country’s third largest public institutional investor, seeking access to the company’s records to determine how it is spending corporate funds in the political arena. According to the novel complaint, which … Continue Reading

Is my donation really anonymous?

Many “political” organizations have 501(c)(4) arms that claim to allow their donors to remain anonymous. Donors who don’t mind being disclosed often give to independent expenditure committees (“super PACs”), which publicly disclose all of their donors to state or federal officials. Those who prefer not to disclose their name, address, occupation, and employer will often … Continue Reading
LexBlog