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Influencing Elections and Carrying on Voter Registration Drives

Taxable expenditures include amounts paid or incurred by a private foundation to influence the outcome of any specific public election or to carry on, directly or indirectly, any voter registration drive. Activities that are considered participation or intervention in a political campaign include, but are not limited to:

  1. Publishing or distributing written or printed statements or making oral statements on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate,
  2. Paying salaries or expenses of campaign workers and
  3. Conducting or paying the expenses of conducting a voter registration drive limited to the geographic area covered by the campaign.

     Exceptions.  This rule does not apply to non-partisan activities carried on under all the following conditions:

  1. The organization making the expenditure is described in section 501(c)(3) and is exempt from tax,
  2. Its activities are nonpartisan, are not confined to one specific election period and are carried on in at least five states,
  3. The organization spends at least 85 percent of its income directly for the active conduct of the exempt purposes or functions for which it is organized and operated;
  4. The organization receives at least 85 percent of its support (other than gross investment income) from exempt organizations, the general public, governmental units or any combination of these; it does not receive more than 25 percent of its support (other than gross investment income) from any one exempt organization; and it does not receive more than 50 percent of its support from gross investment income, and
  5. Contributions to the organization for voter registration drives are not subject to conditions that they may be used only in specified states or other localities of the United States, or that they may be used in only one specific election period.

In determining whether the organization meets the support test in item (4) for a tax year, support received during the tax year and the four immediately preceding tax years of the organization is taken into account.

For organizations with less than four years of operational experience, the support test may be determined by taking into account all available years the organization has been in existence.

Additional information

Advance ruling


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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 09-May-2013