American Public Media's "Marketplace" has aired a continuing series of stories about lobbyist-subsidized travel for legislators, their families and friends. A recent trip included an expenses-paid "seminar" at an international golf resort. As the April 15 tax deadline nears, it's useful to recall that the lobbies who pay for these trips are able to deduct these payments as ordinary business expenses.
As Bill Adair of the St. Petersburg Times reported, the distinction between C3 and C4 non-profits is lost on many. Some nonprofits have both types of organizations, with the same individuals serving in both capacities -- so long as they keep separate books. The distinction affects contributors; C4 donors can't deduct their contributions because the funds may be used for lobbying. But this doesn't prevent the C4 organization from deducting lobbying expenses -- such as paid Congressional travel -- as an expense of doing business.
Something to bear in mind when planning a vacation with after-tax dollars. Others around you are deducting room service, green fees and martinis as a business expense.