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Bright Lines Project

The Bright Lines Project (BLP) began in 2009 is conceived as a way to deal with the fact that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules for political activity for non-profits are confusing and keep organizations from participating in civic engagement. The current rules require the IRS to look at all the relevant “facts and circumstances” when determining whether a nonprofit organization has engaged in restricted political activity. The Bright Lines Project is a regulatory framework that creates a clear definition of allowable political activity with a set of safe harbors and clear bright lines for what is and isn’t political. 

An additional component of our work to better define political activity is our engagement in protecting the nonpartisan nature of charities. Among the promises made by Donald Trump during the recent campaign was repeal of the “Johnson Amendment,” the tax law provision that prohibits 501(c)(3) charities, including churches, schools, hospitals and foundations, from supporting or opposing candidates for office.

Up to now, (c)(3)s have been above the political fray, committed to alleviating poverty, ministering to the spirit, curing disease, and addressing other basic human and social needs. If the Johnson Amendment were to be repealed it would jeopardizes the public’s confidence that their charitable contributions would be used for these universally valued purposes rather than mere partisan politics.

More resources on the Bright Lines Project