Response by Tax-Exempt Organization Scholars to Request for Information

9 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2023 Last revised: 27 Sep 2023

See all articles by Ellen P. Aprill

Ellen P. Aprill

Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Roger Colinvaux

Catholic University of America (CUA) - Columbus School of Law

Brian D. Galle

Georgetown University Law Center

Philip Hackney

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer

Notre Dame Law School

Date Written: September 5, 2023

Abstract

A group of academics who study and write about tax-exempt organizations, including their politically related activities, has responded to an August 14, 2023 Request for Information (RFI) from the Ways and Means Committee regarding issues in connection with the advocacy activities of tax-exempt organizations. The submission describes aspects of current law and provides an appendix with a list of the authors’ relevant scholarly work. As a preliminary matter, the submission emphasizes the importance of the voice of tax-exempt organizations to a well-functioning civil society and democracy. The submission also notes that in no case do the laws applicable to tax-exempt organizations forbid all political activity, a term almost without boundaries if “political” means related to government.

Responding to concerns raised in the RFI, the submission makes several points. First, it is appropriate and lawful for section 501(c)(3) organizations to engage in nonpartisan voter education, registration, and get-out-the-vote activities. Second, Congress should lift the restriction that prevents the IRS from issuing guidance regarding the political activities of 501(c)(4) organizations. Third, Congress should take steps to tighten disclosure relating to foreign donors. Fourth, a new study of 501(c)(3) campaign activities is needed. Fifth and finally, affiliated relationships among tax-exempt organizations are standard practice for nonprofits that want to engage in different types and amounts of politically related activity.

Keywords: tax, nonprofit, politics, First Amendment

JEL Classification: K34, L38

Suggested Citation

Aprill, Ellen P. and Colinvaux, Roger and Galle, Brian D. and Hackney, Philip and Mayer, Lloyd Hitoshi, Response by Tax-Exempt Organization Scholars to Request for Information (September 5, 2023). Loyola Law School, Los Angeles Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2023-24, U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2023-39, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4562367 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4562367

Ellen P. Aprill

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
213-736-1157 (Phone)
213-380-3769 (Fax)

Roger Colinvaux

Catholic University of America (CUA) - Columbus School of Law ( email )

3600 John McCormack Rd., NE
Washington, DC 20064
United States

Brian D. Galle

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

Philip Hackney

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412.643.0434 (Phone)
412.648.2649 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.pitt.edu/people/philip-hackney

Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer (Contact Author)

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States
574-631-8057 (Phone)
574-631-4197 (Fax)

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