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Diana Aviv Testifies Before Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Tax-Exempt Political Activity

 Independent Sector President and CEO Diana Aviv today testified before a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding IRS oversight of partisan political activity by tax-exempt organizations. In her remarks before the Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action,

Federal Rights and Federal Courts, Aviv expressed support for the IRS’s recognition of the need to improve the current rules, noting that the current "definition and rules governing partisan political activity, which is permissible for certain tax-exempt organizations, are unclear.”


Aviv expressed concerned about the confusion regarding the difference between permissible nonpartisan activities undertaken by charitable organizations to encourage civic participation, and partisan political activities aimed at influencing the outcome of elections. She called on the IRS to come forward with a clear definition of political activity that applies across all tax-exempt categories and protects the vital voice of tax-exempt organizations in civic engagement efforts that benefit and sustain communities and strengthen our democratic society.

She also noted that the lack of clarity about definitions, and the ambiguous so called “facts and circumstances” test the IRS applies in making determinations about political activity, resulted in the improper handling of applications for exempt status from both conservative and liberal organizations that was made public in 2013. 

Aviv called for clear definition of candidate-related political activity and a specific threshold for permissible political activity, applied across all 501(c) organizations, to provide regulators a clear, unambiguous standard by which to review applications for tax-exempt status, while also helping exempt organizations understand what is permissible.

"We must preserve the important advocacy role and vital voice of exempt organizations in civic engagement efforts that benefit and sustain the communities we serve and strengthen our democratic society,” she concluded.

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