June 23, 2008
Muslim Advocates & Alliance for Justice Advise Mosques, American Muslim 501(c)(3)s on Lawful Election Activities
San Francisco, CA – Muslim Advocates in partnership with Alliance for Justice (AFJ) today released an advisory to educate American Muslim public charities and mosques about permissible and prohibited activities this election season. In recognition of active political engagement by the American Muslim community, the advisory informs mosques and other 501(c)(3) organizations about IRS limitations on election activity.
As a general rule, a mosque or 501(c)(3) can educate the public about candidates’ views through forums, encourage individuals to vote, and engage in other nonpartisan activities. A 501(c)(3) public charity that supports or opposes candidates for public office, however, could lose its tax-exempt status and/or face taxes on its political activity. The guidance offered by Muslim Advocates and AFJ will help organizations plan and mobilize their efforts in a way that does not jeopardize their 501(c)(3) status.
“With the IRS’s recent scrutiny of alleged partisan statements by ministers and other nonprofit leaders, Muslim Advocates wants to ensure that mosques and other American Muslim public charities are not engaging in any prohibited activity. As part of this advisory, we provide examples of activities that are permissible and are an effective mechanism for the community’s voice to be heard,” said Akil Vohra, an attorney with Muslim Advocates.
Karim Hanafy, a former attorney with the IRS and now in private practice, stated, “The IRS has made it clear that it will be stepping up its efforts in vigorously enforcing the law this election season, but many charities are simply unaware or misinformed of the restrictions imposed on charities. This advisory issued by Muslim Advocates and AFJ will serve as an excellent resource in educating charities and ensuring they comply with the law.”
Muslim community leaders are also encouraged to ask questions of legal experts about election activities by participating in one of three conference calls. Led by lawyers with Muslim Advocates and AFJ, these calls will take place on June 11th, 17th, and 18th. All conference calls will take place at 11 a.m. PST/ 1 p.m. CST/ 2 p.m. EST. To confirm your participation on a conference call, please contact Muslim Advocates at [email protected]
To view a copy of the advisory, click here.
For press inquiries, contact Akil Vohra at (415) 692-1486.