Political Activities By Non-Profit Educational Institutions


The 2012 election season is upon us. There will be hotly-debated contests throughout the nation, culminating in national and local contests this fall.

Each political cycle, schools face questions regarding their obligations (and limitations) when it comes to involvement by the school in various political activities. For example, can your school permit a student club to host one party's candidate on campus? Must you open the opportunity to other candidates? It is extremely important that you understand the IRS guidelines relating to a non-profit's political limitations so that you do not place the school's tax-exempt status in jeopardy.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations (also known as non-profit organizations) receive exceptional tax treatment under federal law because they are tax-exempt and contributions to them are tax deductible. But the trade-off for this preferential tax treatment is a limitation on certain political activities.

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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.

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