Camp Seeks to Block IRS Regulations Limiting Political Activities of 501(c)(4) Organizations

by Holland & Knight LLP
Contact

- See more at: http://www.hklaw.com/PoliticalLawBlog/Camp-Seeks-to-Block-IRS-Regulations-Limiting-Political-Activities-of-501c4-Organizations-01-23-2014/#sthash.5CLbXqqR.dpuf

On January 14, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) introduced legislation that would prohibit, for a period of one year, Internal Revenue Service guidance related to social welfare organizations formed under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(4). Camp's bill, which currently has 24 co-sponsors, targets proposed regulations published by the IRS on November 29, 2013.

The proposed regulations would clarify that the promotion of social welfare, as described in Section 501(c)(4), does not include "candidate-related political activity." The proposed regulations also would replace the current facts and circumstances test used to determine if an organization is engaged in political campaign activities with bright-line rules, including a list of activities that would be considered as per se candidate-related political activities. Such listed activities include, among others:

  •     communications that expressly advocate for or against the election of a clearly identified candidate,
  •     events featuring candidates,
  •     voter guides, and
  •     voter registration drives.

The proposed regulations do not address how much political activity a Section 501(c)(4) organization can conduct without losing its tax exemption. However, in internal guidance from 2009, the IRS indicated that at least 51 percent of a 501(c)(4) organization's activities must be devoted to social welfare for the organization to be considered "primarily" engaged in social welfare activities. More recently, the IRS offered an optional expedited process to Section 501(c)(4) applicants that certify they will devote at least 60 percent of their spending and time to activities that promote social welfare and less than 40 percent of their spending and time to political campaign intervention.

Reaction to the proposed regulations has been mixed. Some commentators appreciate that the IRS is attempting to bring some clarity to an area with few clear-cut rules. Others find the proposed regulations overbroad because they would limit activities—such as voter registration drives and candidate forums—not normally considered political campaign activities under the facts and circumstances approach.

In a statement, Chairman Camp said that the "proposed rules openly target groups that are exercising their First Amendment rights. We cannot allow these draft regulations to go into effect." Camp also argued that it was "premature" for the IRS to publish new guidance before the Ways and Means Committee completes its investigation of the agency's targeting of conservative groups in the exemption application process, which came to light in May of last year. Camp said that the one-year prohibition would allow time for the Committee to complete its investigation and for a thorough public discussion, including a review of public comments related to the proposed regulations.

The IRS generally requested comments on all aspects of the proposed regulations and, in particular, on whether there are other specific activities that should be included in, or excepted from, the definition of candidate-related political activity. The IRS will accept comments until the close of business on February 27, 2014.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Holland & Knight LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Holland & Knight LLP
Contact
more
less

Holland & Knight LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.