The Ballot, the Bimah, and the Tax Code
CCAR Journal: The Reform Jewish Quarterly, Forthcoming
18 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2009
Date Written: December 8, 2009
Under the Internal Revenue Code, synagogues, like other organizations exempt under section 501(c)(3), are prohibited from political campaign intervention, may engage in some lobbying, and are free to take positions on issues of public policy without limit. This essay will explain how the IRS distinguishes these categories. It will include a discussion of direct and indirect endorsement of political candidates. It will also explain when rabbinic speech is deemed that of the individual and when it is attributed to the synagogue. The goal of the piece is to help rabbis understand this area of the law so that they may navigate within its strictures, such as they are. To that end, it will also offer some practical guidelines for commonly encountered situations.
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