TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, April 6, 2017

FAIR Seeks Revocation Of The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Tax Exemption Due To Its Anti-Trump Electioneering

SPLCPress Release, FAIR Files Formal Exhaustive Complaint with the IRS: SPLC Violated Its Tax Exempt Status Repeatedly in the Last Election Cycle Alleges FAIR:

According to a formal legal complaint filed today with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) openly and repeatedly violated its non-profit tax status nearly 50 times during the 2016 presidential election cycle, participating in communication activities prohibited by the IRS in a “flagrant, continued and intentional campaign” targeting then-Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and other Republican candidates. The complaint was filed by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) through its legal affiliate the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI). Copies are available here.

The IRS grants a special “501(c)(3)” tax classification to certain “charitable” and/or “educational” organizations (both of which the SPLC purports to be) that operate within strict public service guidelines. Under the regulations, however, activities such as promoting or opposing certain political candidates for public office are absolutely not permissible communications for these types of privileged organizations. In other words, no electioneering – taking positions in favor of, or against, any active candidate for public office.

“The SPLC went way over the line in this last election. It publicly engaged in deep, deliberate, and unlawful participation during the 2016 presidential election cycle, flagrantly violating its non-profit tax status,” alleges FAIR President Dan Stein. “The IRS should investigate all of these instances, and take appropriate steps to either sanction and fine the SPLC, or remove its tax-exempt status as a public charity. We are alleging – via meticulously-detailed documented evidence – that it repeatedly engaged in widespread, illegal electioneering in 2015 and 2016,” he said. ...

“FAIR is filing this complaint,” says Stein, “not to defend any particular administration, but because the integrity of the not-for-profit rules need to be respected for all. The government should not be subsidizing this kind of ‘dark money’ political activity. We believe that a full IRS investigation of these activities is appropriate given the nature of the abuse and its duration. The violations are overt, and reflect the fact that the IRS has not been ensuring that the 501(c)(3) community is held to the appropriate standards.”

(Hat Tip: Glenn Reynolds.)

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I have been wondering about this for a long time. The SPLC is quick to label conservative groups as hate groups, but not so much liberal groups.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Apr 8, 2017 12:38:07 PM