Manual Political Ads: Issue Advocacy or Campaign Activity Under the Tax Code?

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Contents:
  1. Understanding the Differences Between Political and Issue Advocacy
  2. Political Ads: Issue Advocacy or Campaign Activity Under the Tax Code?
  3. Limits on Political Campaigning for (c)(3) Nonprofits | Nolo
  4. Talk to a Business Law attorney.

In this case, that means using common sense. More than 50 percent of Crossroads GPS' budget goes toward these ads. But the amount listed for "direct political activity" in is nearly identical to how much Crossroads GPS reported in "independent expenditures" to the FEC that year, here and here. Therefore, it's reasonable to discern that any ad not reported to the FEC was considered by the group to be "issue advocacy.

The acknowledged political activity adds up to 26 percent of its total budget in both years.

Understanding the Differences Between Political and Issue Advocacy

And that's even if the underpercent standard for political spending is being used; some reformers argue that anything more than 5 or 10 percent should be disqualifying for a c 4. If a group acts like a c 4 -- for instance, by not disclosing its donors -- but then gets its status denied or revoked, tax experts say the consequences can be severe , including fines of up to 70 percent of the money they raised and spent in secret.

The groups might even have to make donors' names public after all. Reform groups have been pressuring the IRS to enforce its rules for months -- and recently hailed some faint signs that the IRS might be preparing to take action related to bogus c 4 s. Do you have information you want to share with HuffPost? Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you.

Political Ads: Issue Advocacy or Campaign Activity Under the Tax Code?

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Sort by Relevance Most Recent. Read about lobbying and why advocacy is essential to advancing mission. IRS guidance on political campaign activity IRS guidance on other risks to tax-exempt status Similarly, the assets of a charitable nonprofit may not be provided as a campaign contribution to a candidate for public office. Learn how your nonprofit can safely get involved in voter engagement through the resources available at NonprofitVOTE. Section c 3. The Court's answer was that campaign finance laws could reach only party and candidate committees, organizations with the major purpose of electing candidates, or speech that "expressly advocated" the election or defeat of candidates.


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The determination of whether a group had the major purpose of electing candidates depended, in turn, on whether "express advocacy" was the group's primary activity. In footnote 6 of the Buckley opinion, the Court limited "express advocacy" to words and phrases such as "Smith for Congress," "elect," "defeat," or other specific calls for action to vote for or against a candidate.

Thus, organizations could run ads discussing candidates and issues without being subject to campaign finance restrictions, so long as they avoided such express advocacy.

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The McCain-Feingold law, also known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, extended certain campaign finance limitations to broadcast advertisements run within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary election if they mentioned a candidate, regardless of whether or not they contained "express advocacy.

Federal Election Commission. Based on that decision, many persons urged the Federal Election Commission FEC to use its regulatory power to extend campaign finance laws to cover these groups. The Commission held hearings in April to determine whether or not s should be regulated under campaign finance rules, but concluded that the law did not cover these independent organizations unless they directly advocated the election or defeat of a candidate or engaged in broadcast advertising mentioning within the and day windows specified by Congress in the McCain-Feingold law.

Nevertheless, Federal Election Commission rulings after the election attempted to extend the reach of the law to advertisements which questioned a candidate's character and fitness for office off limits to s specifically.

Limits on Political Campaigning for (c)(3) Nonprofits | Nolo

In Carey et al. A February poll from the Pew Research Center found that 68 percent of Americans disapprove of the Supreme Court's decision to allow corporations to make expenditures on behalf of candidates during elections. Seventeen percent approve of the expenditures, and 15 percent of respondents said they were unsure. An October Bloomberg poll found that 47 percent of Americans say they would be less likely to support a political candidate if his campaign was supported by advertising paid for by anonymous business groups.


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According to the pollster, 41 percent said that it would not matter, and 9 percent said they would be more likely to back the candidate. Although organizations were in common use by the s, in the wake of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act , which limited the ability of political parties to raise money, s rose to much greater prominence and visibility. Swift Boat was one such group, which ran controversial and highly effective ads critical of Massachusetts Democratic Party United States John Kerry presidential campaign, Under federal election law, coordination between an election campaign and a group is not allowed.

Talk to a Business Law attorney.

The heavy spending of key groups to attack presidential candidates brought complaints to the Federal Elections Commission of illegal coordination between the groups and rival political campaigns. These formal complaints included:. The FEC's rationale was that these groups had specifically advocated the election or defeat of candidates, thus making them subject to federal regulation and its limits on contributions to the organizations.

Some of these listings identify a parent organization that has created a group but that also engages in many nonpolitical activities. Money raised by JVC is divided between these two beneficiaries.