IRS Issues Warning to Churches
IRS warns charities to stay out of political campaigns. In order to remain exempt from federal income tax a church cannot participate or intervene in any political campaign for or against any candidate for public office at the local, state or federal level. This is an absolute prohibition. A church’s exempt status is jeopardized by a single violation. The IRS recently cautioned charities to remain neutral during political campaigns: “(Charities) cannot endorse any candidates, make donations to their campaigns, engage in fundraising, distribute statements, or become involved in any other activities that may be beneficial or detrimental to any candidate.” IRS News Release IR-96-23
Key point. The IRS noted that “whether an organization is engaged in prohibited political campaign activity depends on all the facts and circumstances in each case. For example, orgnanizations may sponsor debates or forums to educate voters. But if the forum or debate shows a preference for or against a certain candidate, it becomes a prohibited activity.”
Key point. The IRS warned that if a charity engages in prohibited political campaign activity it could lose its exempt status. In addition, contributions to such an organization” are not deductible by donors for federal income tax purposes.”
Taken from Church Treasurer Alert! Monthly Newsletter
Richard Hammar, Editor
|The monthly magazine Church Treasurer Alert! has accounting, tax, and financial articles by experts on church issues.