TaxProf Blog

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

Friday, December 14, 2012

NY Attorney General to Demand Disclosure of Donors to 501(c)(4) Groups

New York Times:  Attorney General Seeks to Force Disclosure of More Political Donors:

The New York attorney general announced a a far-reaching draft regulation on Wednesday that would force broad public disclosure of millions of dollars in loosely regulated spending on elections and ballot measures in New York.

The proposal by the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, takes direct aim at tax-exempt organizations that spend heavily on political advertising but have not been required to reveal the donors behind their spending. The new rules are likely to have a major political impact after they are finalized next spring. ...

Mr. Schneiderman’s new regulation would require any tax-exempt group that does business in New York to disclose what proportion of its total spending went to political activities. The regulations would define political spending more broadly than does the IRS, whose own rules have been criticized for allowing tax-exempt groups to spend millions of dollars on thinly veiled campaign ads despite their charitable status.

Any group that spends more than $10,000 in New York on state and local elections — including ballot measures, as well as races for municipal or county posts — would have to go even further, disclosing the name of any donor giving $100 or more. Groups would be required to disclose the new information as part of their annual reports to the attorney general’s office, which is responsible for regulating charitable organizations in New York. They would not be required to name donors who designate their contributions as restricted to nonpolitical purposes. And organizations that fear their donors would face serious threats or harassment would be able to apply for a waiver to the disclosure rules.

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