[TriLUG] May 19 - TriLUG Annual Spring Installfest
steve.pinkham at gmail.com
Wed Apr 25 14:24:55 EDT 2012
Joseph Mack NA3T wrote:
> On Wed, 25 Apr 2012, Steve Pinkham wrote:
>> Both campaigning for election and lobbying lawmakers for the change of
>> laws are restricted.
> it's good to get the facts here. I've never been really clear about this.
>> "An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence
>> legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or
>> employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing,
>> supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates
>> the adoption or rejection of legislation.
> so zero influence on legislation is allowed.
Incorrect. 501c3 orgs are limited in how *much* of their activities can
be political. They can't be primarily for political (electioneering) or
This is explained in the part above what I quoted previously:
"In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if
a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence
legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may
engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of
> but then you say 20% of your budget on influencing legislation is OK
>> As I understand (IANAL, YMMV, etc), you can't spend more than 20% of
>> your budget or a large portion of your time in an attempt to influence
>> specific legislation.
> however we're safe if we just talk to the public
As long as we aren't spending a large portion of our time or money
convincing them to vote for specific legislation, yes.
>> Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public
>> policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example,
>> organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute
>> educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an
>> educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status."
>> In summary, we're quite fine unless we become MUCH more explicitly
>> political. ;-)
> But you're being self referential. We're trying to find out what is
> It sounds like if we don't attempt to educate legislators (directly or
> inspiring others to do the same) then we're not being political. We may
> be able to spend 20% of our budget on something (but I'm not clear on
> what) without being political.
Political in IRS terms refers to electioneering for political campaigns
(which we don't do). Legislative refers to lobbying and campaigning for
particular bills, either directly or indirectly (which we don't do much
of if any).
I was using political in the colloquial sense that encompasses both the
IRS "political" and "legislative" definitions. Sorry for any confusion.
The legislative part is explained fairly clearly on the IRS site:
The political(electioneering) side is somewhat more complicated, but
doesn't apply to us.
| Steven Pinkham, Security Consultant |
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