[Board] Lobbying for 501(c)3's

Frank Warmerdam warmerdam at pobox.com
Tue Jul 24 08:51:03 PDT 2007


We have occasionally had discussions on how OSGeo would not be able to
be politically active if we want to be 501(c)3 status.  I found this
email on the SPI (Software in the Public Interest) mailing list
informative and in line with the understanding I got from Rich.  I
provide it as background information for the board.

Mark R Dobyns Jones wrote:
 > United States tax exempt organizations are permitted to lobby
 > legislatures, within limits. This is how it is possible for United
 > States universities, and other tax exempt organizations to lobby for
 > particular laws.  There is a prohibition against tax-exempt groups
 > campaigning for a candidate for office. A lot different.
 > In general, tax exempt organizations are permitted to talk about the
 > topic of lobbying for, or potentially lobbying for something, or
 > analyzing the process of lobbying, without worry, since talk costs
 > nothing, without jepardizing its tax status. If the typical organization
 > gets serious about lobbying efforts, generally it elects to use an
 > expenditures-reporting test, so that it may know what the measure and
 > threshold is, and plan for staying below the relevant threshold.
 > For "non-electing" organizations the determination on lobbying is based
 > upon a review of all activities, so that "no substantial portion" of
 > the organization's activities may be lobbying.
 > See the U.S. Internal Revenue web site for brief background:
 > - Expenditures test election:
 > http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=163394,00.html
 > - The election form: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5768.pdf
 > - The "substantial part test, for non-electing organizations:
 >    http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=163393,00.html
 > ~Mark Jones

Best regards,
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, warmerdam at pobox.com
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush    | President OSGeo, http://osgeo.org

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