What’s the Law: HHAA’s Tax exemption under 501(c)(3)



TOPIC: HHAA’s Tax Exemption Under 501 (c) (3) — Political Limitations

Question: I read in the newsletter that HHAA is a Sec. 501 (c) (3) organization that is tax exempt. I heard that this exemption prohibits the club from participating in political activities. What does this really mean?

Answer: To maintain a tax exempt status, HHAA must “not participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.” Here are some examples of what cannot be done:

1) Newsletter articles supporting or opposing any candidate

2) HHAA board member using his title in any statement supporting or opposing a candidate

3) Inviting a pro-first amendment candidate to any HHAA event to speak

Accordingly a board member cannot say, “I am a HHAA board member, and I fully support candidate X and ask that you vote for her/him.

A candidate can attend the Gun Show since it is open to the public. However, the candidate cannot be acknowledged by HHAA; e.g., a P.A. system announcement, “Please welcome Senator X who just walked into our Gun Show. She is a shooter and is seeking re-election. She deserves our support in November.” This would be a violation of the exemption. It would be best not to acknowledge any candidate on the P.A. system.

Another example: A candidate escorted around the Gun Show by a HHAA board member may be in violation of the rules. However, being escorted by a HHAA member acting only as an individual may allowed.

All HHAA members and board members, as individuals, are not prohibited but are free to fully support and campaign for or against any candidate. We can appear in advertisements, wave signs, attend rallies, fund raise, donate money, and canvass. As individuals, and not identified with HHAA, we can advocate for any candidate. Personal emails can be sent supporting or opposing any candidate.

We are also allowed to send supporting or opposing testimony regarding any pending legislation.

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