Internal:Public Policy/Taking positions on public policy and nonprofit-charity status

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Revision as of 03:34, 17 February 2014 by Econterms (talk | contribs) (collect tax/lobby info here)
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The Public Policy Committee has a role to report to the Wikimedia DC board annually to confirm that the chapter is staying within the proper bounds of a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization, by allocating small enough fractions of its time, resources, and effort. On this page we discuss the various dimensions of this and our procedure for verifying that we are in-bounds.

Past public policy positions

The chapter has taken public policy positions in the past. Here's a list

Tax rules

501(c)3s may lobby as long as lobbying is not "substantial": IRS doc see p.7 on legislative activities.

  • this source says "501(c)3 Public Charities, including Community Foundations, have every right to advocate on behalf of policies they believe in. But, when nonprofits advocate for specific legislation (i.e. lobby), it may trigger specific rules and limits."
  • This guidance says that "501(c)(3) organizations can, and often should, lobby at all levels of government. Federal tax law has always permitted some lobbying by nonprofits."
  • Perhaps the potential committee should provide an analysis or specific proposal on this topic if and when becomes relevant. An IRS tax attorney may be on the committee. We do not in the near run have a specific proposal to do it, or to budget a penny for it.
  • To me it seems too early to constrain our potential freedom of speech and contribution, apart from our previously discussed agreement that the Wiki DC Board can take positions but the public policy committee cannot. -- Econterms (talk) 21:18, 26 January 2014 (EST)
  • More info: Wikipedia has a clear helpful paragraph on this point. The IRS guidance is very clear here. We have to file a trivial form, Form 5768, if we take positions. The "expenditure test" seems to say that if the org spends approximately zero on lobbying, it is not at any risk. If its lobbying is not "substantial" timewise, it is not at risk. We'll be fine. A possible step is to assign an analysis of the Corporation's limits here to the Public Policy Committee, once it exists. And perhaps a policy proposal on keeping the risk to a negligible level. -- Econterms (talk) 21:53, 26 January 2014 (EST)
  • Wikimedia DC made the 501(h) election a few years ago, so we should be in the clear as you say. Thank you for the research! James Hare (talk) 22:45, 26 January 2014 (EST)

Expenditures on public policy matters

Zero? or did we spend some admin costs in 2013?