With nonprofits gearing up for the 2020 elections, it is important to know what they can — and cannot — do with respect to the elections. Section 501(c)(3) charities can lose their tax-exemption if they participate in an election indicating support for or opposition to any candidate for public office at any level of government.
Section 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, often formed for the purpose of electioneering, (c)(5) trade unions, and (c)(6) trade associations do not face such limitations. These and other types of nonprofits (See Ready Reference Page: “What Do We Mean When We Say Nonprofit?”) will not lose their exemption so long as electioneering is not their primary activity.
Despite efforts by President Trump and some members of Congress to seek to repeal or limit the so-called “Johnson Amendment” that imposed the prohibition on electioneering for charities (See Ready Reference Page: “Keep Charities Out of Politics”), and despite an early executive order from the Trump Administration to reduce enforcement against religious organizations (See Nonprofit Issues®, April 2017), the law and the official guidance for charities remains unchanged.
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