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Action Alert: Send IRS Comments on Proposal to Regulate Nonprofit Web Activities
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The IRS is initiating regulation on electronic communications by nonprofit organizations. Original proposals including making monitoring who nonprofit organizations link to from their web sites and constituting links as possible lobbying violations.

The IRS is considering the viability of issuing a range of "guidances" to the nonprofit sector that would possible restrict the use of the Internet by exempt organizations. No final decision has occurred as of yet, but a request for comments has been issued, and interested parties have only until the 13 February 2001 deadline to submit their opinions.

If you think this is un-important, imagine this: Your social service nonprofit loses it's 501(c)(3) status for having a link that encourages youth to vote, or to advocate for social justice issues. Questions being raised by the IRS include:

To what extent are statements made by subscribers to a forum, such as a listserv or newsgroup, attributable to an exempt organization that maintains the forum? Does attribution vary depending on the level of participation of the exempt organization in maintaining the forum (e.g., if the organization moderates discussion, acts as editor, etc.)?

TechRocks (http://www.techrocks.org/) and the Alliance for Justice (http://www.afj.org) has worked with NetVocate to develop an on-line campaign to mobilize support on this issue which could greatly impact the future of nonprofits. Speak out. Submitted your comments regarding this issue at SpeakOutIRS (http://www.speakoutirs.org/).

Right now, the IRS is accepting comments on how to regulate nonprofits and electronic communications. This could affect nonprofits in many ways - from what web sites we can link to, to how we calculate our lobbying expenses. And, we only have until February 13 to make our voices heard! Please take a moment to learn more about the IRS Announcement at http://www.nonprofit-techworld.org/news/archive.php?id=9 or http://www.afj.org/news/irscommentreq_text.htm

Then go to http://www.speakoutirs.org/ and make your voice heard.

This comment period is critical, especially with recent changes in the current government administration. If the IRS develops regulations that limit the ability of nonprofits to use electronic communication forms for advocacy, it will set the tone for the rest of this presidency, and perhaps longer.

So speak out. Tell your friends. Tell your fellow staff members. Each voice counts.

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