26 CFR 1.501(h)-3 - Lobbying or grass roots expenditures normally in excess of ceiling amount.

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§ 1.501(h)-3 Lobbying or grass roots expenditures normally in excess of ceiling amount.
(a) Scope. This section provides rules under section 501(h) for determining whether an organization that has elected the expenditure test and that is not a member of an affiliated group of organizations (as defined in § 56.4911-7(e)) either normally makes lobbying expenditures in excess of its lobbying ceiling amount or normally makes grass roots expenditures in excess of its grass roots ceiling amount. Under section 501(h) and this section, an organization that has elected the expenditure test and that normally makes expenditures in excess of the corresponding ceiling amount will cease to be exempt from tax under section 501(a) as an organization described in section 501(c)(3). For similar rules relating to members of an affiliated group of organizations, see § 56.4911-9.
(b) Loss of exemption—
(1) In general. Under section 501(h)(1), an organization that has elected the expenditure test shall be denied exemption from taxation under section 501(a) as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) for the taxable year following a determination year if—
(i) The sum of the organization's lobbying expenditures for the base years exceeds 150 percent of the sum of its lobbying nontaxable amounts for the base years, or (ii) The sum of the organization's grass roots expenditures for its base years exceeds 150 percent of the sum of its grass roots nontaxable amounts for the base years.
The organization thereafter shall not be exempt from tax under section 501(a) as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) unless, pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section, the organization reapplies for recognition of exemption and is recognized as exempt.
(2) Special exception for organization's first election. For the first, second, or third consecutive determination year for which an organization's first expenditure test election is in effect, no determination is required under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, and the organization will not be denied exemption from tax by reason of section 501(h) and this section if, taking into account as base years only those years for which the expenditure test election is in effect—
(i) The sum of the organization's lobbying expenditures for such base years does not exceed 150 percent of the sum of its lobbying nontaxable amounts for the same base years, and
(ii) The sum of the organization's grass roots expenditure for those base years does not exceed 150 percent of the sum of its grass roots nontaxable amounts for such base years. If an organization does not satisfy the requirements of this paragraph (b)(2), paragraph (b)(1) of this section will apply.
(c) Definitions. For purposes of this section—
(1) The term lobbying expenditures means lobbying expenditures as defined in section 4911(c)(1) or section 4911(f)(4)(A) and § 56.4911-2(a).
(2) The term lobbying nontaxable amount is defined in § 56.4911-1(c)(1).
(3) An organization's lobbying ceiling amount is 150 percent of the organization's lobbying nontaxable amount for a taxable year.
(4) The term grass roots expenditures means expenditures for grass roots lobbying communications as defined in section 4911(c)(3) or section 4911(f)(4)(A) and §§ 56.4911-2 and 56.4911-3.
(5) The term grass roots nontaxable amount is defined in § 56.4911-1(c)(2).
(6) An organization's grass roots ceiling amount is 150 percent of the organization's grass roots nontaxable amount for a taxable year.
(7) In general, the term base years means the determination year and the three taxable years immediately preceding the determination year. The base years, however, do not include any taxable year preceding the taxable year for which the organization is first treated as described in section 501(c)(3).
(8) A taxable year is a determination year if it is a year for which the expenditure test election is in effect, other than the taxable year for which the organization is first treated as described in section 501(c)(3).
(d) Reapplication for recognition of exemption—
(1) Time of application. An organization that is denied exemption from taxation under section 501(a) by reason of section 501(h) and this section may apply on Form 1023 for recognition of exemption as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) for any taxable year following the first taxable year for which exemption is so denied. See paragraphs (d)(2) and (d)(3) of this section for material to be included with an application described in the preceding sentence.
(2) Section 501(h) calculation. An application described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section must demonstrate that the organization would not be denied exemption from taxation under section 501(a) by reason of section 501(h) if the expenditure test election has been in effect for all of its last taxable year ending before the application is made by providing the calculations, described either in paragraphs (b)(1) (i) and (ii) of this section or in § 56.4911-9(b), that would have applied to the organization for that year.
(3) Operations not disqualifying. An application described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section must include information that demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that the organization will not knowingly operate in a manner that would disqualify the organization for tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) by reason of attempting to influence legislation.
(4) Reelection of expenditure test. If an organization is denied exemption from tax for a taxable year by reason of section 501(h) and this section, and thereafter is again recognized as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) pursuant to this paragraph (d), it may again elect the expenditure test under section 501(h) in accordance with § 1.501(h)-2(a).
(e) Examples. The provisions of this section are illustrated by the following examples, which also illustrate the operation of the tax imposed by section 4911.
Example 1.
(1) The following table contains information used in this example concerning organization X.
Year Exempt purpose expenditures (EPE) Calculation Lobbying
Nontaxable amount (LNTA) Lobbying expenditures (LE)
1979 $400,000 (20% of $400,000=) $80,000 $100,000
1980 300,000 (20% of $300,000=) 60,000 100,000
1981 600,000 (20% of $500,000 15% of $100,000=) 115,000 120,000
1982 500,000 (20% of $500,000=) 100,000 100,000
Totals 1,800,000 355,000 420,000
(2) Organization X, whose taxable year is the calendar year, was organized in 1971. X first made the expenditure test election under section 501(h) effective for taxable years beginning with 1979 and has not revoked the election. None of X's lobbying expenditures for its taxable years 1979 through 1982 are grass roots expenditures. Under section 4911(a) and § 56.4911-1(a), X must determine for each year for which the expenditure test election is effective whether it is liable for the 25 percent excise tax imposed by section 4911(a) on excess lobbying expenditures. X is liable for this tax for each of its taxable years 1979, 1980, and 1981, because in each year its lobbying expenditures exceeded its lobbying nontaxable amount for the year. For 1979, the tax imposed by section 4911(a) is $5,000 {25%×($100,000−$80,000)=$5,000}. For 1980, the tax is $10,000. For 1981, the tax is $1,250.
(3) The taxable years 1979 through 1981 are all determination years under paragraph (c)(8) of this section. On its annual return for determination year 1979, the first year of its first election, X can demonstrate, under paragraph (b)(2) of this section, that its lobbying expenditures during 1979 ($100,000) do not exceed 150 percent of its lobbying nontaxable amount for 1979 ($120,000). For determination year 1980, under paragraph (b)(2), X can demonstrate that the sum of its lobbying expenditures for 1979 and 1980 ($200,000) does not exceed 150 percent of the sum of its lobbying nontaxable amounts for 1979 and 1980 ($210,000). For 1981, under paragraph (b)(2), X can demonstrate that the sum of its lobbying expenditures for 1979, 1980, and 1981 ($320,000) does not exceed 150 percent of the sum of its lobbying nontaxable amounts for 1979, 1980, and 1981 ($382,500). For each of the determination years 1979, 1980, and 1981, the first three years of its first election, X satisfies the requirements of paragraph (b)(2). Accordingly, no determination under paragraph (b)(1) of this section is required for those years, and X is not denied tax exemption by reason of section 501(h).
(4) Under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, X must determine for its determination year 1982 whether it has normally made lobbying expenditures in excess of the lobbying ceiling amount. This determination takes into account expenditures in base years 1979 through 1982. The sum of X's lobbying expenditures for the base years ($420,000) does not exceed 150 percent of the sum of the lobbying nontaxable amounts for the base years (150%×$355,000=$532,500). Accordingly, X is not denied tax exemption by reason of section 501(h).
Example 2.
(1) The following table contains information used in this example concerning W.
Year Exempt purpose expenditures (EPE) (dollars) Calculation Lobbying nontaxable amount (LNTA) (dollars) Lobbying expenditures (LE) (dollars) Grass roots nontaxable amount (25 percent of LNTA) (dollars) Grass roots expenditures (dollars)
1979 700,000 (20% of $500,000 15% of $200,000=) 130,000 120,000 32,500 30,000
1980 800,000 (20% of $500,000 15% of $300,000=) 145,000 100,000 36,250 60,000
1981 800,000 (20% of $500,000 15% of $300,000=) 145,000 100,000 36,250 65,000
1982 900,000 (20% of $500,000 15% of $400,000=) 160,000 150,000 40,000 65,000
Total 3,200,000 580,000 470,000 145,000 220,000
(2) Organization W, whose taxable year is the calendar year, made the expenditure test election under section 501(h) effective for taxable years beginning with 1979 and has not revoked the election. W has been treated as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) for each of its taxable years beginning within its taxable year 1974.
(3) Under section 4911(a) and § 56.4911-1(a), W must determine for each year for which the expenditure test election is effective whether it is liable for the 25 percent excise tax imposed by section 4911(a) on excess lobbying expenditures. In 1980, 1981, and 1982, W has excess lobbying expenditures because its grass roots expenditures in each of those years exceeded its grass roots nontaxable amount for the year. Therefore, W is liable for the excise tax under section 4911(a) for those years. The tax imposed by section 4911(a) for 1980 is $5,937.50 {25%×($60,000−$36,250)= $5,937.50}. For 1981, the tax is $7,187.50. For 1982, the tax is $6,250.
(4) On its annual return for its determination years 1979, 1980, and 1981, the first three years of its first election, W demonstrates that it satisfies the requirements of paragraph (b)(2) of this section. Accordingly, no determination under paragraph (b)(1) of this section is required for those years, and W is not denied tax exemption by reason of section 501(h).
(5) On its annual return for its determination year 1982, W must determine under paragraph (b)(1) whether it has normally made lobbying expenditures or grass roots expenditures in excess of the corresponding ceiling amount. This determination takes into account expenditures in base years 1979 through 1982. The sum of W's lobbying expenditures for the base years ($470,000) does not exceed 150% of the sum of W's lobbying nontaxable amounts for those years (150%×$580,000=$870,000). However, the sum of W's grass roots expenditures for the base years ($220,000) does exceed 150% of the sum of W's grass roots nontaxable amonts for those years (150%×$145,000=$217,500). Under section 501(h), W is denied tax exemption under section 501(a) as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) for its taxable year 1983. For its taxable year 1984 and any taxable year thereafter, W is exempt from tax as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) only if W applies for recognition of its exempt status under paragraph (d) of this section and is recognized as exempt from tax.
Example 3.
(1) The following table contains information used in this example concerning organization Y.
Taxable Year Exempt purpose expenditures (EPE) (dollars) Calculation Lobbying nontaxable amount (LNTA) (dollars) Lobbying expenditures (LE)(dollars) Grass roots nontaxable amount (25 percent of LNTA)(dollars) Grass roots expenditures (dollars)
1977 700,000 (20% of $500,000 15% of $200,000=) 130,000 182,000 32,500 30,000
1978 800,000 (20% of $500,000 15% of $300,000=) 145,000 224,750 36,250 35,000
Subtotal 1,500,000 275,000 406,750 68,750 65,000
1979 900,000 (20% of $500,000 15% of $400,000=) 160,000 264,000 40,000 50,000
Totals: 2,400,000 435,000 670,750 108,750 115,000
(2) Organization Y, whose taxable year is the calendar year, was first treated as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) on February 1, 1977. Y made the expenditure test election under section 501(h) effective for taxable years beginning with 1977 and has not revoked the election.
(3) For 1977, Y has excess lobbying expenditures of $52,000 because its lobbying expenditures ($182,000) exceed its lobbying nontaxable amount ($130,000) for the taxable year. Accordingly, Y is liable for the 25 percent excise tax imposed by section 4911(a). The amount of the tax is $13,000 [25%×($182,000−$130,000)=$13,000].
(4) For 1978, Y again has excess lobbying expenditures and is again liable for the 25 percent excise tax imposed by section 4911(a). The amount of the tax is $19,937.50 [25%×($224,750−$145,000)=$19,937.50].
(5) For 1979, Y's lobbying expenditures ($264,000) exceed its lobbying nontaxable amount ($160,000) by $104,000, and its grass roots expenditures ($50,000) exceed its grass roots nontaxable amount ($40,000) by $10,000. Under § 56.4911-1(b), Y's excess lobbying expenditures are the greater of $104,000 or $10,000. The amount of the tax, therefore, is $26,000 [25%×$104,000=$26,000].
(6) Under paragraph (c)(8) of this section, 1977 is not a determination year because it is the first year for which the organization is treated as described in section 501(c)(3). For 1977, Y need not determine whether it has normally made lobbying expenditures or grass roots expenditures in excess of the corresponding ceiling amount for purposes of determining whether it is denied exemption under section 501(h) for its taxable year 1978.
(7) For determination year 1978, Y must determine whether it has normally made lobbying or grass roots expenditures in excess of the corresponding ceiling amount, taking into account expenditures for the base years 1977 and 1978. For Y, the determination under paragraph (b)(2) of this section considers the same base years as the determination under paragraph (b)(1) of this section and is, therefore, redundant. Accordingly, Y proceeds to determine, under (b)(1), whether it is denied exemption. Y's grass roots expenditures for 1977 and 1978 ($65,000) did not exceed 150 percent of the sum of its grass roots nontaxable amounts for those years ($103,125). Y's lobbying expenditures for 1977 and 1978 ($406,750) did not exceed 150% of its lobbying nontaxable amount for those years (150%×$275,000=$412,500). Therefore, Y is not denied tax exemption under section 501(h) for its taxable year 1979.
(8) For determination year 1979, the sum of Y's grass roots expenditures in base years 1977, 1978, and 1979 does not exceed 150 percent of its grass roots nontaxable amount (calculation omitted). However, the sum of Y's lobbying expenditures for the base years ($670,750) does exceed 150% of the sum of the lobbying nontaxable amounts for those years (150%×$435,000=$652,500). Since Y was not described in section 501(c)(3) prior to 1977, only the years 1977, 1978, and 1979 may be considered in determining whether Y has normally made lobbying expenditures in excess of its lobbying ceiling. Therefore, Y determines that it has normally made lobbying expenditures in excess of its lobbying ceiling. Under section 501(h), Y is denied tax exemption under section 501(a) as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) for its taxable year 1980. For its taxable year 1981, and any taxable year thereafter, Y is exempt from tax as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) only if Y applies for recognition of its exempt status under paragraph (d) of this section and is recognized as exempt from tax.
Example 4.
Organization M made the expenditure test election under section 501(h) effective for taxable years beginning with 1977 and has not revoked the election. M has $500,000 of exempt purpose expenditures during each of the years 1981 through 1984. In addition, during each of those years, M spends $75,000 for direct lobbying and $25,000 for grass roots lobbying. Since the amount expended for M's lobbying (both total lobbying and grass roots lobbying) is within the respective nontaxable expenditure limitations, M is not liable for the 25 percent excise tax imposed under section 4911(a) upon excess lobbying expenditures, nor is M denied tax-exempt status by reason of section 501 (h).
Example 5.
Assume the same facts as in Example 4, except that, on behalf of M, numerous unpaid volunteers conduct substantial lobbying activities with no reimbursement. Since the substantial lobbying activities of the unpaid volunteers are not counted towards the expenditure limitations and the amount expended for M's lobbying is within the respective nontaxable expenditure limitations, M is not liable for the 25 percent excise tax under section 4911, nor is M denied tax-exempt status by reason of section 501(h).
[T.D. 8308, 55 FR 35589, Aug. 31, 1990]

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