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Exception for Nonpartisan Analysis, Study and Research

Engaging in nonpartisan analysis, study, or research and making the results of this work available to the general public or to governmental bodies, officials, or employees is not carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation.  Nonpartisan analysis, study, or research means an independent and objective exposition of a particular subject matter, including activities that qualify as educational activities.  Nonpartisan analysis, study, or research may advocate a particular position or viewpoint as long as there is a sufficiently full and fair exposition of the relevant facts to enable the public or an individual to form an independent opinion or conclusion.  However, a mere presentation of unsupported opinion does not qualify as nonpartisan analysis, study, or research.

     Presentation as part of a series.  Normally, whether a publication or broadcast qualifies as nonpartisan analysis, study, or research will be determined on a presentation-by-presentation basis.  However, if a publication or broadcast is one of a series prepared or supported by a private foundation and the series as a whole meets the standards of nonpartisan analysis, study, or research, then any individual publication or broadcast in the series will not result in a taxable expenditure even though such individual broadcast or publication does not, by itself, meet the standards of nonpartisan analysis, study, or research.  Whether a broadcast or publication is considered part of a series will ordinarily depend on all the facts and circumstances of each particular situation.  However, for broadcast activities, all broadcasts in any period of 6 consecutive months will ordinarily be eligible to be considered as part of a series.  If a private foundation times or channels a part of a series in a manner designed to Influence the general public or the action of a legislative body for a specific legislative proposal, the expenses of preparing and distributing that part of the analysis, study, or research are a taxable expenditure.

     Making available results of analysis, study, or research.  A private foundation may choose any suitable means, including oral or written presentations, to distribute the results of its non-partisan analysis, study, or research, with or without charge.  This may include distribution of reprints of speeches, articles, and reports, presentation of information through conferences, meetings, and discussions, and dissemination to the news media, including radio, television, and newspapers, and to other public forums.  These presentations may not be limited to or directed toward persons who are interested only in one side of a particular issue.

     Example 1.  M, a private foundation, establishes a research project to collect information for showing the dangers of using pesticides in growing crops.  The information collected includes data on proposed legislation, pending before several state legislatures, that would ban the use of pesticides.  The project takes favorable positions on the legislation without producing a sufficiently full and fair exposition of the relevant facts to enable the public or an individual to form an independent opinion or conclusion on the pros and cons of the use of pesticides.  This project is not within the exception for nonpartisan analysis, study, or research because it is designed to present information only on one side of the legislative controversy.  

     Example 2.  N, a private foundation, establishes a research project for the apparent purpose of examining and reporting information as to the pros and cons of the use of pesticides in growing crops.  The information is collected and distributed in the form of a published report that analyzes the effects and costs of the use and nonuse of various pesticides under various conditions on humans, animals, and crops.  The report also presents the advantages, disadvantages, and economic cost of allowing the continued use of pesticides unabated, of controlling the use of pesticides, and of developing alternatives to pesticides.

     Even if the report gives conclusions that the disadvantages, as a result of using pesticides, are greater than the advantages of using pesticides and that prompt legislative regulation of the use of pesticides is needed, the project is within the exception for nonpartisan analysis, study, or research because it is designed to present information on both sides of the legislative controversy In addition, the report presents a sufficiently full and fair exposition of the relevant facts to enable the public or an individual to form an independent opinion or conclusion.


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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 30-Apr-2014