Many nonprofits often desire certain legislative and public policy changes by our legislators and publicly elected officials to help further or achieve their charitable missions. Nonprofits, however, often avoid advocating for such changes because the IRS rules regarding nonprofit advocacy tend to be complex and commonly misunderstood. 501(c)(3) organizations in particular are often unsure or unaware of which advocacy activities are permissible and which advocacy activities may jeopardize their tax-exempt status. Additionally, nonprofit advocacy and compliance with IRS regulations is a common hot topic for other groups such as the media, public, and authorities, especially during election years. Given the increased attention and scrutiny to nonprofit lobbying and election-related activities that is to be expected this year, 501(c)(3) organizations would greatly benefit from becoming knowledgeable about nonprofit advocacy rules.
- IRS definitions related to lobbying
- Lobbying limits and IRS reporting requirements
- IRS definitions related to electioneering
- Prohibition on political campaign activity
- Permissible election-related activities
Emily Chan is an attorney with the NEO Law Group, a San Francisco–based law firm focused on representing nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations. Emily works with clients on corporate, tax, and governance issues and is the principal contributor to the Nonprofit Law Blog. She has also authored articles published in national publications and spoken to several groups and professional associations on nonprofit legal issues.
Gene Takagi is the managing attorney of NEO Law Group. He is also the contributing editor and publisher of the Nonprofit Law Blog. Prior to opening his independent practice in 2005, Gene practiced corporate law at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, during which time he was awarded Outstanding Barrister of the Year by the Bar Association of San Francisco. Gene has over 15 years of management experience in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors and speaks and writes regularly on nonprofit legal issues for local and national audiences. Gene has a J.D. from UCLA School of Law and a graduate degree in nonprofit administration.