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Can nonprofits rent space to political candidates for campaigning purposes?

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Can nonprofits rent space to political candidates for campaigning purposes?

Our 501(c)(3) historic home museum rents out the museum for dinner parties, showers, meetings etc. Can we allow political candidates to rent the Center to use for campaigning purposes? We technically have no involvement other than the rental contract.

A 501(c)(3) charity can lose its exemption for intervening in a political campaign and you are correct to be concerned about the question. The IRS issued a report in 2006 on the 2004 elections, in which it reported that it had revoked three exemptions for improper participation. (See Nonprofit Issues, March 1, 2006.)
 
It also issued a new Fact Sheet, which has been reissued as a Revenue Ruling on which the public can rely for guidance, on what it interprets as intervention in a political campaign. (See Ready Reference Page: “IRS Issues New Guidance on Electioneering.”) It specifically says that a charity that ordinarily rents its facilities to the public will not be deemed to intervene in a political campaign merely by renting to a candidate at the standard rates. 
 
You worry me when you say you won’t “technically” have any involvement other than the contract. You would be wise to avoid any involvement other than providing the same services to the candidate that you provide to any other renter.
Thursday, April 19, 2007

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