Criticism of Candidates Ruled 501(c)(3) Permissible

A prominent national organization was concerned that its ongoing efforts to investigate and educate the public on a topic of significant public importance might run afoul of the ban on 501(c)(3) political campaign intervention when the organization reported on people running for office or other election-related news in ways that people would perceive as casting particular candidates or political movements in a bad light.

We crafted a careful application for tax-exempt status that fully described how the organization’s ongoing educational activities might sometimes reference political candidates or parties and setting forth rules the organization would follow to ensure that such efforts would remain 501(c)(3)-permissible.  The IRS recognized the organization’s tax-exempt status, providing the organization with certainty that its activities would not jeopardize its 501(c)(3) status and giving the organization confidence to proceed with activities that might otherwise have seemed too risky under existing IRS guidance.

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