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May 22, 2014

IRS Rule Revision Good News for Nonprofits; Agency Should Be Applauded for Listening to Stakeholders

Statement of Lisa Gilbert, Director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division, Bright Lines Project Manager

The IRS today confirmed that it will revise its proposed rules governing political activity for 501(c)(4) nonprofits. This is welcome news for the nonprofit community, which has struggled for decades with the unclear definition of political activity in the current rules.

The current proposal was an important first step in fixing the current, vague rules, but the revision announced today presents an opportunity for the IRS to craft a rule that gives nonprofits what they’ve needed for years – bright-line definitions of political activity, applicable to all nonprofits. Charities deserve clarity on what they can do with their resources while preserving their tax-exempt status.

This announcement is clear evidence that the IRS is listening to stakeholders in the nonprofit community. Sixty-seven percent of organizations that commented or signed on to comments to the proposed IRS rule asked that the rulemaking continue, and nearly all of those comments asked that the proposed rule be revised.

Public Citizen’s Bright Lines Project has been working for years to create clear, fair rules that would apply to all nonprofits and would encourage nonpartisan civic engagement while removing opportunities for abuse.

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