NEW IRS PROPOSAL FOR TAX EXEMPT GROUPS

“IMPORTANT FIRST STEP AGAINST ABUSE” SAYS LEAGUE

Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters of the U.S. today spoke out in support of the new notice of proposed rulemaking for non-profit, 501(c)(4) organizations announced last week by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

“We could not be more thrilled that the IRS is taking this first important step in curbing the abuse of non-profit, 501(c)(4) organizations for partisan political activity,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League.

“Since the Citizens United case, we have seen (c)(4) non-profits used to funnel millions of dollars of secret money into candidate elections, and this threatens the integrity of our elections and government decision-making,” she said.

“New IRS regulations covering non-profit organizations are one of the most important reforms that can be taken under current law to overcome the effects of Citizens United,” MacNamara continued.

Some have suggested that the new proposal goes too far by including voter registration and voter guides under the definition of candidate-related political activity which would be controlled under the proposal governing 501(c)(4) organizations. “This IRS action is about dark, secret money in America’s elections plain and simple,” MacNamara said. “Unlike some opponents of such reforms, the League thinks the concern about truly nonpartisan activity is overblown,” she continued.

“It is important to remember this is just a proposal – a good one, but still just a proposal, and an incomplete one as well,” MacNamara said. The League will be reviewing it closely and submitting comments to ensure that true nonpartisan election information activities for the appropriate 501(c) organizations are protected.

The IRS notice of proposed rulemaking is a request for comments on key issues as the IRS considers a new set of rules governing 501(c)(4) organizations and is not a complete new set of proposed rules. In addition to asking for comments on its proposed new definition of “candidate-related political activity,” the IRS is seeking comment on whether similar rules should be extended to business and labor associations under sections 501(c)(6) and (5), how much “candidate-related political activity” should be allowed for a (c)(4) organization, and how best to deal with truly nonpartisan and unbiased voter information activities by such organizations.

“We are very pleased that the Administration has finally stepped up to the plate on this,” MacNamara said. “The critical question is whether the IRS will continue and will ultimately adopt strong reform regulations. There will be an outcry, but the IRS must persevere and stop the abuses we are seeing with secret campaign money,” MacNamara concluded.

Contact: Kelly Ceballos, kceballos@lwv.org, 202-263-1331

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The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.