WASHINGTON -- Long-standing 501(c)(3) health-care organizations do not have to reaffirm their tax-exempts status with the Internal Revenue Service whenever they issue tax-exempt bonds, an IRS official said last week in an attempt to clarify a controversial new policy.

"These organizations can have total reliance on their exemption letters as long as they engage exclusively in exempt activities," the official said. These would be activities that are in line with their nonprofit, charitable status and that do not benefit private parties, he said.

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