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The Real Rules

Congregations and the IRS Guidelines On Advocacy, Lobbying, and Elections

Table of Contents

Introduction

Summary: The Three-Point System

  1. Tax-Exempt Status: What is a 501(c)(3)?
  2. Advocacy and Lobbying
    1. General Issue Advocacy
    2. Influencing Legislation (Lobbying)
      1. Measuring Lobbying: the Substantial Part Test
      2. Lobbying During Election Years
      3. Nonpartisan Analysis
Political (Electoral) Activities
  1. Supporting/Opposing Candidates
    1. Endorsements/Advertising
    2. Financial Contributions
    3. In-Kind Contributions (Business Activity)
    4. Individual Activity by Religious Leaders
Inviting a Candidate to Speak
  1. Equal Opportunity to Participate
  2. Public Forum
  3. Candidate Appearances Where Speaking or Participating as a Non-Candidate
Voter Guides Voter Registration and Get-Out-The-Vote-Drives (GOTV) Issue Advocacy v. Political Campaign Intervention
  1. General Guidelines
  2. Websites
  3. Other Internet Communications
IRS Enforcement and Consequences
  1. Enforcement
  2. Consequences
Additional Information and References
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