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View Diary: The IRS and Electioneering by Churches (76 comments)

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  •  I see Democrats (3+ / 0-)

    giving speeches in churches all the time.  How about a little guidance about what to think of this.?  It's the frst thing republicans retort when I raise the issue.

    •  Next, you'll ask if the NAACP (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      burrow owl

      is in practice non-partisan and if it eschews advocacy for particular candidates

    •  It's aways despicable IMO... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PsychoSavannah, Jules Beaujolais

      ...cash in the palms of the pastors who never "invite" all of the candidates. Whether Dems or Repubs it tempts of the law and brings the trash of electioneering and an occasion of graft into the church.  

    •  thre are rules about this (9+ / 0-)

      Dems probably stray over the line as well from time to time. What is important is that candidates and institutions get smart about this and try to do right.

      Here is one section from an IRS publication about this. (PDF)

      Candidate Appearances
      Depending on the facts and circumstances, an organization may invite political candidates to speak at its events without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status. Political candidates may be invited in their capacity as candidates, or in
      their individual capacity (not as a candidate). Candidates may also appear without an invitation at organization events that are open to the public.
      When a candidate is invited to speak at an organization event in his or her capacity as a political candidate, factors in determining whether the organization participated or intervened in a political campaign include the following:
      • Whether the organization provides an equal opportunity to participate to political
      candidates seeking the same office;
      • Whether the organization indicates any support for or opposition to the candidate (including candidate introductions and communications concerning the
      candidate’s attendance); and
      • Whether any political fundraising occurs.
      In determining whether candidates are given an equal opportunity to participate, the nature of the event to which each candidate is invited will be
      considered, in addition to the manner of presentation. For example, an organization that invites one candidate to speak at its well attended annual banquet, but invites the opposing candidate to speak at a sparsely attended general meeting, will likely have violated the political campaign prohibition, even if the manner of presentation for both speakers is otherwise neutral.

      When an organization invites several candidates for the same office to speak at a public forum, factors in determining whether the forum results in
      political campaign intervention include the following:

      • Whether questions for the candidates are prepared and presented by an
      independent nonpartisan panel,
      • Whether the topics discussed by the candidates cover a broad range of issues
      that the candidates would address if elected to the office sought and are of
      interest to the public,
      Whether each candidate is given an equal opportunity to present his or her view
      on each of the issues discussed,
      • Whether the candidates are asked to agree or disagree with positions,
      agendas, platforms or statements of the organization, and
      • Whether a moderator comments on the questions or otherwise implies approval
      or disapproval of the candidates.

    •  Giving speeches in churches is not forbidden (4+ / 0-)

      its how you do it...

      you have to invite everyone on equal terms

      the church can't endorse anyone, explicitly or implicitly

      you can't ask for votes or tell someone to vote against so and so.

      Disclosure: Proud to be the Volunteer coordinator for Indiana for WesPAC

      by ElaineinIN on Tue Jan 29, 2008 at 01:52:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How do you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rolfyboy6

        stop, or even define, an "implicit" endorsement?

        •  They don't. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rolfyboy6

          As a matter of practice, only express, I-dare-you-to-fine-me endorsements will run afoul of the IRS.

          "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

          by burrow owl on Tue Jan 29, 2008 at 02:09:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Stop if you are the IRS, difficult (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            burrow owl, Rolfyboy6

            define,  possible...

            counsel your clients to abide by the letter of the law... necessary

            Disclosure: Proud to be the Volunteer coordinator for Indiana for WesPAC

            by ElaineinIN on Tue Jan 29, 2008 at 02:11:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Any counselor will give an opinion (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rolfyboy6

              as to how the law is enforced, and what the entity can do given prior practice by the IRS.

              "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

              by burrow owl on Tue Jan 29, 2008 at 02:12:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Sort of (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Jules Beaujolais

                I clearly can't tell a client to do something I think is in violation of 501c3 because the IRS isn't choosing to enforce it.

                In fact, I think under Circular 230, I think I am even very limited in my ability to tell clients that in the case of a grey area, they can take into account how likely they are to be audited.

                Disclosure: Proud to be the Volunteer coordinator for Indiana for WesPAC

                by ElaineinIN on Tue Jan 29, 2008 at 02:24:26 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  The IRS has some pronouncements on the issue (4+ / 0-)

          some are on the website...

          In short, you don't need to say vote for Mike Huckabee to violate the statute.

          If you invite him to your church, and the pastor is standing next to him and says, when you are voting, remember who the good christian is...

          If you invite him on sunday morning, and all the other candidates at 3 am on Tuesday...

          If his name is in bold and everyone else is in italics and 3 pt type in the margin...

          anything that implies endorsement by manner or placement without using the words "vote" explicitly.

          Disclosure: Proud to be the Volunteer coordinator for Indiana for WesPAC

          by ElaineinIN on Tue Jan 29, 2008 at 02:10:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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