Political Activities and Lobbying

Does your non-profit organization have political leanings or lobbying goals at the state or federal level of government? Talk to an attorney whose professional focus is NPO counsel and representation. Copilevitz & Canter, LLC, has offices in Washington, D.C. and Kansas City, and works with tax-exempt clients nationwide.

What Types of Political Activities Are Allowed for NPOs?

The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) provides that a 501(c)(3) organization is prohibited from supporting or opposing any candidate for any elective office, local, state, or national.

Our experienced lawyers advise NPO clients on where the "line" is and how the organization can make sure it is not "crossed" while not hampering legitimate "public education" goals of the organization.

Direct Lobbying and Grass-Roots Lobbying

The 501(c)(3) organization has latitude to engage in lobbying to a limited extent, i.e., so long as it is not a "substantial" part of the activities of the organization. Congress in 1976 enacted a statute which permits most types of 501(c)(3) organizations to elect to be governed by "safe harbor" limits on permissible lobbying expenditures. We advise as to making this election and file the necessary IRS form to make the election.

The safe harbor limits govern both "direct" lobbying and "grass-roots" lobbying. Direct lobbying means contacts with a member or staff of a legislative body or with any governmental official or employee who may participate in the formation of legislation. "Grass-roots" lobbying refers to communications to the public to generate support for or opposition to legislation.

Statutory Exceptions · Compliance With Federal Lobbying Disclosure Act

Not all communications to members of legislative bodies are considered lobbying for purposes of the IRC. There are important statutory exceptions. We provide advice in regard to these exceptions.

We also advise on compliance with the Federal Lobbying Disclosure Act and the House and Senate rules governing permissible gifts and travel related to members of Congress and staffers.

Contact an Experienced Law Firm

For more information and to discuss your organization's goals and concerns about political activity or lobbying, please contact us online. We are happy to talk to you in an initial consultation.