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EO Operational Requirements: Endorsing Candidates for Public Office

Can a tax-exempt organization endorse candidates for public office?

The type of tax exemption determines whether an organization may endorse candidates for public office.  For example, a section 501(c)(3) organization may not publish or distribute printed statements or make oral statements on behalf of, or in opposition to, a candidate for public office.  Consequently, a written or oral endorsement of a candidate is strictly forbidden.  The rating of candidates, even on a nonpartisan basis, is also prohibited.  On the other hand, a section 501(c)(4), (5), or (6) organization may engage in political campaigns, provided that such activities are not the organization's primary activity.

In addition, section 501(c) organizations that make expenditures for political activity may be subject to tax under section 527(f). For more information, please see Election Year Issues.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 06-May-2013