Tag Archives: 501(c)(4)

California AG Becerra Hints at Crackdown on Nonprofit Political Activity

Nonprofits that are active in California politics, already facing one of the most complex regulatory environments in the country, now have another thing to worry about: the state’s Attorney General.  In remarks Wednesday, Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced his intent to pursue nonprofit organizations that he believes “abuse” their nonprofit status for political purposes.  With the … Continue Reading

IRS Steps into Fray on Political Activities

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued two private letter rulings (PLRs) that may be interesting for tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activity. In the first ruling, the IRS held that a company could not deduct payments made to charity under a PAC matching contribution program as an “ordinary and necessary business expense.”  While … Continue Reading

Forming and Operating Super PACs: A Practical Guide for Political Consultants in 2016

Covington recently released a high-level primer that provides political consultants with a practical resource for creating and running a federal Super PAC in a legally compliant manner.  The primer, which is available here, explains the history and basic rules that apply to federal Super PACs.  The primer then discusses the following key topics: checklist of … Continue Reading

California Regulation, Proposed Statute Add to State’s Reputation for Complex, Detailed Disclosure

California is already home to some of the most complicated and searching political regulations in the country, especially in its efforts to expose “dark money” and other undisclosed political spending.  A newly-amended lobbying regulation and proposed campaign finance law will enhance that reputation.  The practical effect of each is to invite deeper scrutiny of not … Continue Reading

UPDATE: 501(c)(4) Organizations Not Required To Provide Notice Until Treasury Issues Regulations

Under a new law, each 501(c)(4) organization will have to notify the IRS of the intent to operate as a 501(c)(4) organization; however, such notice will not be due until at least 60 days after regulations are issued implementing the notification procedures. As reported in Inside Political Law on December 22, 2015, The Protecting Americans … Continue Reading

PATH Act Requires 501(c)(4) Organizations To Provide Notice To IRS After Formation

Under recent legislation, newly-created and certain existing 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations must file a notice with the IRS.  In the past, social welfare organizations were not required to submit an application (Form 1024) to the IRS to be recognized as a tax-exempt organization but could “self-declare” exempt status, as long as the organization operated pursuant … Continue Reading

Congressional Spending Bill Shuts Down Key Goals of Campaign Finance Reform Community

A major spending bill posted late last night by Congressional leaders contains provisions shooting down two key initiatives of the campaign finance reform community.  Stymied by a Federal Election Commission that has increasingly struggled to find consensus, campaign finance activists in recent years have turned their attention to other federal regulators, pressing those regulators to … Continue Reading

Gift Tax Certainty at Last?

The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed a bill to provide gift tax certainty to individuals who make gifts to 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, 501(c)(5) labor unions, and 501(c)(6) trade associations.  The bill, H.R. 1104 (the “Fair Treatment for All Gifts Act”), was approved with bipartisan support on a voice vote.  It now goes … Continue Reading

Conflicting Signals on Finalizing the Proposed Treasury Regulations for 501(c)(4)s

Earlier today, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, in his first appearance before the House Appropriations subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Oversight, stated that final regulations governing political activity by 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations are unlikely to be completed before the November elections. His statement seems to differ from the White House Statement of Administration … Continue Reading

Proposed IRS Regulations for 501(c)(4)s: Sooner Than Expected, But Probably Too Late

Yesterday evening the Treasury and the IRS released, sooner than expected, proposed regulations that could fundamentally change the playing field for 501(c)(4) organizations active in politics.  The proposed regulations will be published in the Federal Register on Friday, November 29.  The pre-publication version is here. Highlights The proposed regulations mirror the approach first taken by … Continue Reading

OPEN Sesame or a Potemkin Village?

Twenty House Democrats yesterday introduced proposed legislation that, if enacted in its current form, would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to: Require corporations and labor unions which “submit[] regular, periodic reports” to their shareholders and members to include certain detailed information concerning their political spending.  That information must also be reported to the … Continue Reading

Charting a Path Forward for Certain 501(c)(4) Organizations, and Perhaps Others

The IRS on Tuesday issued its eagerly anticipated 30-day report summarizing its initial review and assessment of “what went wrong” in connection with the IRS’s use of inappropriate criteria to screen exemption applications from Tea Party groups seeking recognition that they are 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations.  We had previously blogged on this here and here. … Continue Reading

Non-Profit Donor Disclosure Rules in New York Are Now In Effect

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced today that he has adopted regulations requiring non-profits engaging in certain electioneering activity in New York, including 501(c)(4) organizations, to disclose their donors.  We previously wrote on the proposed rules, which after a series of public hearings, have been slightly modified and adopted by the Attorney General.  The … Continue Reading

Group Sues Treasury and IRS to Amend 501(c)(4) Regulations

All eyes are on the IRS and its regulation of 501(c)(4) organizations these days, with the agency’s mishandling of exemption applications, the release of the Treasury Inspector General’s report, and the lengthy hearings held by the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee examining the … Continue Reading

Treasury Inspector General to IRS: Yes, That Was Wrong

Late yesterday afternoon, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released its eagerly awaited report on its investigation into the IRS’s use of inappropriate criteria for screening tax-exempt applications (“IG Report”). The Inspector General initiated its investigation after members of Congress raised concerns during the 2012 election cycle that the IRS was selectively enforcing the … Continue Reading

Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Campaign Finance Enforcement Hearing

This morning the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism held a hearing on “Current Issues in Campaign Finance Law Enforcement.”  The focus of the hearing was what the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service are doing to enforce campaign finance law violations post-Citizens United with respect to contributions to Super PACs and … Continue Reading

Covington Issues Client Advisory Concerning Senate PSI Campaign Finance Investigation

psi advisory2Today we issued a detailed advisory to clients about the anticipated campaign finance investigation by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.  Senator Levin, who chairs the Subcommittee, recently announced his intention to lead an investigation of “secret money” in US elections.  We are following this very closely for clients, including corporations, trade associations, advocacy groups, … Continue Reading

Utah Corporate Disclosure Bill Signed Into Law

This year’s march of state government campaign finance reforms continues, with the Governor of Utah signing H.B. 43 into law earlier this week. Utah already requires corporations—including nonprofits—to report how much they spend on political expenditures once they reach a $750 threshold for a calendar year.  But the newly enacted law requires these corporations to … Continue Reading

New Report Shows Surge in Outside Group Spending Relative to Candidates and Parties

Outside groups spent more than $1 billion during the 2012 election, according to a report released last week by Public Citizen.  Public Citizen asserts that this record-setting figure exceeds the total spent by outside groups in the four previous election cycles combined.  Other key findings of the report include: In four of the top 10 … Continue Reading

New Push for Donor Disclosure in New York

The New York Attorney General proposed today a broad plan requiring nonprofit organizations involved in New York state elections to disclose the nonprofit’s donors and electoral advocacy activity.  This proposed rule comes on the heels of a new rule in New York requiring organizations that lobby to disclose certain donors.  The AG’s proposed rule, however, … Continue Reading

‘Tis the Season!

Like the men and women in red suits ringing bells on street corners, press reports are springing up everywhere alleging that numerous 501(c)(4) social welfare groups—including groups on both sides of the aisle—have violated their tax-exempt status by spending too much time and money on political campaign activities during the recent campaigns. For any such … Continue Reading
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