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The Real Rules

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

Table of Contents


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
  3. 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
    2. Inviting a Candidate to Speak
      1. Equal Opportunity to Participate
      2. Public Forum
      3. Candidate Appearances Where Speaking or Participating as a Non-Candidate
    3. Voter Guides
    4. Voter Registration and Get-Out-The-Vote-Drives (GOTV)
  4. Issue Advocacy v. Political Campaign Intervention
    1. General Guidelines
    2. Websites
    3. Other Internet Communications
  5. IRS Enforcement and Consequences
    1. Enforcement
    2. Consequences
  6. Additional Information and References

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Last updated on Thursday, September 13, 2012.

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