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PACs and 527s

Political organizations, sometimes called “political action committees” or “PACs,” or “527s” for their section of the tax code, enable people to amass political power, influence elections and elect candidates who share their values.  Unlike other types of tax-exempt organizations, political groups may engage in campaigns without risking their tax exemption or paying tax on their expenditures.  Operating a PAC or other 527, whether as an independent operation or an arm of another organization, requires complying with tax and employment laws, in addition to a thicket of federal, state and local campaign finance laws.   Our attorneys can help a PAC or other 527 maximize its power without running afoul of the law.

Political organizations have different needs than other tax-exempt entities such as 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations.  They are more acutely subject to federal and state campaign finance law and must comply with federal tax laws as well.  Political organizations often have multiple registration and reporting requirements in numerous jurisdictions.  Our attorneys help political organizations navigate those complex regulations.  To assist clients, we provide the following services:

Federal and State Registration

Our attorneys guide political organizations through every facet of federal and state compliance.  From filing Form 8871 to register with the Internal Revenue Service to assisting with requirements imposed by the Federal Election Commission or state election agencies, our experience helps smooth the registration process.  We help leaders select the committee structure that best suits their goals and determine what registration is necessary.

Federal and State Reporting

For clients influencing federal elections, we help them comply with the complex the Federal Elections Commission reporting schedule.  Similarly at the state level, we provide guidance on the type and timing of reports required by each of 50 states.  In situations where a client must also file IRS disclosure reports, we advise on the timing of those filings, and the information organizations must make publicly available. 

Annual Tax Filings

Most tax-exempt organizations must file a version of the IRS Form 990.  This can require dozens of pages of personnel and financial information.  We assist leaders in understanding the requirements that apply to their organizations, and help clients understand any state-tax filing requirements they may face.  Additionally, we review drafts of organizations’ Forms 990 and state-tax filings.

Campaign Finance and Elections

From solicitation rules to contribution limits to reporting schedules, the laws governing political organizations can be onerous and confusing.  For federal elections, the Federal Election Commission produces hundreds of pages of regulations, explanations and opinions each year.  And, all 50 states have various officials, boards and commissions establishing their own unique sets of campaign laws.  Our attorneys help organizations understand the restrictions and see a clear path to their goal of influencing elections.

At both the federal and state levels, our attorneys have extensive experience helping PACs and 527s establish compliance systems to cut through the confusion, so organization leaders can know – in plain English – where they’ll need to register, how much they can give candidates, when they’ll need to report their activities, and whether they’ll need to disclose donors.  From answering simple questions like, “How much can we give a gubernatorial candidate in Missouri?” to establishing complex multi-million-dollar national operations with multiple campaign-finance arms, our attorneys provide tailored advice based on an organization’s individual needs.

When laws change – such as with the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC we help organizations adapt quickly to pursue new opportunities or navigate new restrictions without compromising their effectiveness or goals.  And, when campaign finance authorities launch investigations, we have years of experience helping PACs and other 527s successfully defend themselves.





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