National: New IRS rules add both clarity and confusion about the role of advocacy groups in politics | The Washington Post

For the first time since 1959, nonprofit advocacy groups face new Internal Revenue Service rules governing their political activities, an area of the tax code that has been crying out for greater clarity. A proposed regulation unveiled Tuesday by the Treasury Department draws the boundaries more clearly — but instantly kicked off intense debate about whether the lines are in the right place. One phrase in the official notice summed up the imperfect nature of the exercise. The new rules, the department said, “may be both more restrictive and more permissive than the current approach.” That seemingly contradictory statement reflects the muddy zone now occupied by “social welfare” organizations set up under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. Originally a designation used by civic leagues and homeowner associations, social welfare groups emerged in the past decade as the go-to vehicles for political operatives seeking to influence campaigns without revealing their donors.

Full Article: New IRS rules add both clarity and confusion about the role of advocacy groups in politics - The Washington Post.

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