The rules have been on the books for roughly half a century, but it's only recently that those who work at the Internal Revenue Service are considering the degree to which they may be ignored or abused.The rules in question are those that define the behavior that is appropriate for organizations organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, including churches, hospitals, universities and other not-for-profit entities. Tax-exempt organizations that must adhere to the 501(c)(3) rules are explicitly prohibited from engaging in any form of political intervention, either directly or indirectly.

According to IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson, a "disturbing amount of political intervention" was carried out by charitable organizations during the 2004 election year, causing the IRS to address the need for clarification and enforcement of the exempt organization rules regarding political campaign intervention.

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