Legal Guidelines for Campaign Activity

California State PTA and all of its constituent associations are classified as tax-exempt nonprofit associations under the federal Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). State and federal laws place certain requirements and restrictions on lobbying and election-related activities and expenditures by such associations. A PTA that participates in influencing or attempting to influence specific legislation or voter action for the passage or defeat of any ballot measure must comply with both the federal IRS regulations and the California state laws and reporting requirements.

IRS Regulations: To retain its IRS tax-exempt status and continue to receive tax-deductible contributions, a PTA may not participate in any type of political campaign or other activity on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate for any public office. Nor may a PTA devote more than an insubstantial part of its volunteer activity and expenditures to influence the outcome of ballot measures and other legislation. The IRS regulations do not define “insubstantial,” but it is generally interpreted to mean 5 percent or less of the association’s total expenditures and activities (including volunteer hours).  Lobbying expenses must be reported on the association’s annual tax forms. Definition of what constitutes reportable lobbying is complex; contact California State PTA through channels for more information.

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