A Roundtable discussion hosted by the Tax Policy and Charities Project, and initiative of the Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy and the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.
Discussion I: Is Everything "Politics"?
“Political activity,” means different things to different people and under the tax laws, there are different types of limitations (on lobbying, voter registration, candidate forums, political campaigns, electioneering, etc.) for different types of organizations that are all referred to as “limits on political activities.” This first discussion will identify all the moving parts: What activities might we want to regulate, if not limit? What legal issues led to IRS investigations of 501(c)(4) organizations?
Discussion II: What Tools Do We Have? What Proposals for Change are on the Table?
The toolkit for regulating or limiting political activity consists of registration, disclosure, excise taxes, loss of tax-exempt status and loss of the ability to receive tax deductible donations. Are these useful? Adequate? Would bright lines be helpful? Rules, standards, or both? What proposals are on the table? What are their potential strengths and weaknesses?
Discussion III: Can We Do It? What are the Constitutional and Administrative Constraints on Proposed Changes?
What limits can government constitutionally impose? What agency (or agencies) can accomplish the goals we envision? Is “tax-exempt” the label, and IRS the right organization to regulate organizations that have little or no economic income? Are hard-to-administer and hard-to-enforce limits better than none at all? What are the implications for administration? For enforcement?