The U.S. Internal Revenue Service said Thursday that it will revise proposed rules governing nonprofit groups’ involvement in politics.
The rules, released last year, were an attempt to provide guidance for how much political activity groups organized under section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code could engage in without risking loss of their tax exemption or being forced to reveal their donors.
The IRS disclosed in May 2013 that it gave some Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status extra scrutiny because of their names, not their activities. President Barack Obama forced out acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller, and several other senior executives left their jobs, including Lois Lerner, who was the agency’s director of exempt organizations.
The rules, designed to provide clearer guidelines for IRS employees, were part of the government’s response to the issue.
Some actions would be considered political involvement, including advertising, voter guides, voter-registration drives, get-out-the-vote campaigns, Internet references to candidates and some appearances by candidates at groups’ events.
Under the proposed rules, a group would risk losing its tax-exempt status by engaging in too many of those activities, though the rules didn’t define what would be considered too much.
After the IRS released the new rules, groups across the political spectrum objected with more than 150,000 comments, calling them too broad and an attack on free speech. Opponents included the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Family Association.