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Foundation funding clarified

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Foundations may lobby, or fund groups that lobby, as long as they follow certain tax guidelines, the Internal Revenue Service wrote in a letter to an advocacy group.

The letter came in response to a series of questions posed by Charity Lobbying in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C., group that promotes advocacy by nonprofits.

The letter counters prevalent beliefs that foundations are not permitted to fund nonprofits that lobby, Charity Lobbying says, and states the conditions under which foundations may engage in advocacy and lobbying efforts of their own.

In general, the IRS letter clarifies that private foundations can provide general operating grants to groups that lobby, provided those grants are not earmarked for lobbying, Charity Lobbying says.

The group hopes the letter will spur more foundation support of nonprofits working to change public policy.

The letter provides “general information” and is not a formal ruling, the IRS says.

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