New Technologies and What the IRS Thinks

According to a field directive issued in July 2008, the IRS considers nonprofit organizations responsible for information contained on linked sites in the same manner the nonprofit organization is responsible for its own printed or published materials. This field directive (see at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/internetfielddirective072808.pdf) relates directly to political campaign activities. This is based largely on Rev. Rul. 2007-41 (see at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rr-07-41.pdf) which states that a Web page is the same as printed material, and the organization has control over which links are placed on the Web page. Therefore, the organization is responsible for the content of the linked material. As the use of the Internet becomes more complex, especially through the use of social networking sites such as MySpace, FaceBook and Twitter, it may become extremely difficult to monitor the content of linked material. The IRS may need to revise its rules to keep up with the growth of technology, but until then, churches and nonprofit organizations should monitor Web pages and links for undesirable content. Linking to a person who is running for political office may cause the church to be unknowingly involved in supporting a political campaign.