Permissible activities for churches and other entities, especially during election years
October 26, 2012
October 26, 2013
In this presidential election year, questions regarding permissible activities from churches have been raised. As a federal tax-exempt, 501(c) (3) organization, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), at all levels (i.e., General Assembly, synod, presbytery and particular congregation), is permitted to engage in a limited, insubstantial amount of witnessing or lobbying activities which attempt to influence legislation or issues.
It is strictly prohibited, however, from engaging in political activity which includes, but is not limited to, participating or intervening, directly or indirectly, in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for elective public office. Violation of these limits may result in the revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.
For more information, see the following resources:
- The Pew Forum's article Preaching Political for the Pulpit; 2012 Guide to IRS Rules on Political Activity by Religious Organizations
- The Legal Resource Manual for Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Middle Governing Bodies and Churches' Taxation section (see pages 90 and 91)
- The Internal Revenue Service publication Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations
- Additional materials from the Internal Revenue Service related to political campaign intervention by tax exempt organizations