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Nonprofit lobby expense reporting

Erica E. Harris (Department of Accountancy and Information Systems, Villanova University)
Ryan D. Leece (Department of Accounting and Finance, University of Alabama at Birmingham)
Daniel G. Neely (Accounting at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management

ISSN: 1096-3367

Article publication date: 1 March 2017



We investigate the determinants and consequences of nonprofit lobbying activity by analyzing 501(c)(3) nonprofit lobbying choices as reported on the primary tax form, Form 990. Under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), nonprofits may lose their tax exempt status if they engage in a substantial amount of lobbying. We examine lobbying choices across three dimensions: (1) the test used to determine whether lobbying activities are substantial (i.e., making an H-election) (2) whether lobbying activities are directly related to the mission of the nonprofit (i.e., program related) (3) whether an affiliate nonprofit lobbies on behalf of a nonprofit. Results indicate lobbying choices are associated with the amount of lobbying reported and the amount of contributions received. Additionally, our results provide some evidence that nonprofit lobbying choices allowed under the IRC are underutilized.


Harris, E.E., Leece, R.D. and Neely, D.G. (2017), "Nonprofit lobby expense reporting", Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 522-553.



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