IRS Reminds Churches To Avoid Politics

The Internal Revenue Service is reminding churches and other charities to avoid partisan political actions. Because churches and charities are exempt from income tax, they are prohibited from endorsing candidates, donating to campaigns, raising funds or distributing campaign materials. While houses of worship may address political and social issues, federal tax law bars tax-exempt organizations from electioneering.

Organizations that violate the tax law face penalties and may have their tax-exempt status stripped by the IRS. Federal courts have upheld this prohibition on political activity, most recently in Branch Ministries v. Rossotti. To help non-profits obey tax law, the IRS published Tax Information for Charities & Other Non-Profits, and Americans United prepared Churches And Politics: A Guide For Religious Leaders.