NAACP Files Comments In Opposition to Proposed IRS Regulations Restricting Civic Engagement

by March 3, 2014 0 comments

editor John Travis Holt

The NAACP filed comments in opposition to proposed IRS regulations that would redefine political activity for 501(c)(4) organizations. “In a rush to combat legitimate abuses of 501(c)(4) status, the IRS has proposed overbroad regulations that throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water,” stated NAACP Interim President and CEO Lorraine C. Miller.  “For more than a century, the NAACP has fought tirelessly to protect the rights of everyday Americans to participate in the political process – a process based on one man,  one vote.  The proposed regulations undermine that effort and the efforts of other organizations to secure unfettered access to the ballot box.  For the NAACP, it is not about political campaigns nor a political candidate, it is about the American right to vote.”

As drafted, the proposed regulations would cause the “primary” activity—by any measure—of these NAACP units to be counted as “candidate-related political activity,” with the result that most branches and conferences would lose their tax-exempt status.  The proposed regulations would also impede the NAACP’s state and regional conferences’ ability to support their branches.  Specifically, the proposed rules would take the drastic approach of treating a grant from one section 501(c)(4) organization to another as “candidate-related political activity” unless the recipient branch agreed not to engage in any such activity. 

“We are requesting that the Proposed Regulations be withdrawn because they would have a chilling effect on nonpartisan voter engagement,” stated NAACP General Counsel Kim M. Keenan.  “For over 105, NAACP members of branches around the nation have overcome threats, intimidation, and actual violence to register and encourage citizens to vote. Treasury regulations should not be used to suppress nonpartisan civic engagement in America. “

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.  You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our five “Game Changer” issue areas here.

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