501(c)(3) legislation alert — comment deadline is tomorrow!

PoliticalRallyHere’s your chance to help protect your church’s rights to educate the flock by holding non-partisan debates!

Tell the IRS that you do NOT want proposed new 501(c)(4) regulations to be applied to 501(c)(3) churches!

In a recent interview with Phoenix-based Certified Public Accountant Monica J. Stern, I learned that the IRS has released proposed regulations defining political campaign activity for 501(c)(4)organizations. The regulations are significantly more restrictive than the regulations currently in place.

As an example, the proposed regulations would define “get-out-the-vote” drives and non-partisan voter education guides or websites with specific candidate’s positions on the issues as political campaign activity. Non-partisan debates held within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election would also be labeled a political campaign activity. This would be a radical change for 501(c)(4) organizations.

The sleeper issue here is that the proposed regulations also ask for comment about whether or not these same definitions should be applied to 501(c)(3) organizations with the potential to turn what was widely held to be fairly safe educational activities into prohibited activities for charities.

The vitally important issue at hand is that the proposed regulations also ask for comment about whether or not these same definitions should be applied to 501(c)(3) organizations. The potential effect of applying the proposed regulations to 501(c)(3) charities is to convert what has always been held to be educational activities into prohibited activities for charities.

All 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(3) organizations — and their advisors — should review the regulations and comment. The comment period closes tomorrow, on Feb. 27, 2014. The regulations, and the rules for commenting, can be found online.

LegalRealities_book2Robert Erven Brown is an attorney licensed to practice in Arizona. He and his nonprofit practice group work with nonprofits and churches helping them manage key operations connected with their missions, visions and causes. As permitted by local Rules of Ethics, they collaborate with attorneys who are licensed in states other than Arizona. Bob is author of Legal Realities: Silent Threats to Ministries, which describes his Campus Preservation Planning© initiative — a comprehensive program designed to manage the wide array of risks facing non-profit organizations. He can be reached by email or by calling 602.744.5748. RHL is located at 201 North Central Ave., Suite 3300, Phoenix, AZ 85004. Monica J. Stern, Certified Public Accountant, can be reached by email or by calling 602.674.8226.

This publication is offered as a public service by the Nonprofit Practice Group at Ridenour, Hienton & Lewis (RHL) for general educational purposes to provide accurate and authoritative information on general principles of law. It is not intended to provide, and may not be relied on as, legal advice. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, then services of a competent professional person should be sought. “From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations.” This article may not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your local jurisdiction. No “informal” legal advice will be provided by telephone. Simply sending an e-mail to Mr. Brown will not create an attorney-client relationship. A formal attorney client relationship will not be established until a conflict check is completed and an engagement letter has been signed by both the attorney and the client.

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