Mat Staver from the Liberty Council put together a good overview of the proposed changes to Social Welfare Organizations (501c4s). Below is a partial list that attempts to define political activity, changing the language that has stood for more than 50 years.
“IRS Regulation-134417-13, “Guidance for Tax-Exempt Social Welfare Organizations on Candidate-Related Political Activities,” is a proposed new regulation that is an outrageously brazen attempt by the IRS to silence the speech of 501(c)(4) organizations before the upcoming election. If implemented, the regulation would prohibit a 501(c)(4) from speaking to matters of public concern during the 2014 election cycle.
In part, the proposed regulation:
–Prohibits using words like “oppose,” “vote,” “support,” “defeat,” and “reject;”
–Prohibits mentioning, on its website or on any communication (email, letter, etc.) that would reach 500 people or more, the name of a candidate for office 30 days prior to a primary election and 60 days prior to a general election;
–Prohibits mentioning the name of a political party 30 days prior to a primary election and 60 days prior to a general election, if that party has a candidate running for office;
–Prohibits voter registration drives or conducting a nonpartisan “get-out-the-vote” drive;
–Prohibits creating or distributing voter guides outlining how incumbents voted on particular bills;
–Prohibits hosting candidates for office at any event, including debates and charitable fundraisers, 30 days prior to a primary election or 60 days prior to a general election, if the candidate is part of the event’s program;
–Prohibits distributing any materials prepared on behalf of a candidate for office;
–Restricts employees of such organizations from volunteering;
–Restricts the ability of officers and leaders of such organizations to make public statements regarding the nomination of judges;
–Creates a 90-day blackout period, in an election year, that restricts the speech of §501(c)(4) organizations;
–Declares political activity as contrary to the promotion of social welfare; and
–Protects labor unions and trade associations by not including them under the proposed regulations.
The proposed IRS regulation even restricts the ability of leaders within these organizations to speak publicly regarding legislative matters of public concern and to volunteer”
Tens of thousands of comments have been recorded during the IRS open comment session, which has now closed. While the 501c4s wait to hear the outcome, many have chosen not to be active right now, which is having an impact on the current 2014 election cycle..