The IRS is accepting comments regarding a proposed change in the amount of political activity allowed by "social welfare" organizations, or 501(c)(4)s. If you watch The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, you are familiar with the fact that due to an incorrect interpretation of the Law by those who wrote the IRS guidelines for these organizations, you can run a truck through the definition of a 501(c)(4).
The comment process is important to the writing of new regulations. Progressive voices are needed to support the proposed changes. To date, most comments have been by conservatives.
More beneath the squiggle...
The loose definition of social welfare organizations has allowed very politically organizations such as Tea Party groups & also progressive groups (though less so) to not have to disclose their donors.
There is an IRS category for political groups, 527. These groups must disclose their donors. The proposed changes would greatly limit the amount of political activity allowed by 501(c)(4)s, which would steer political organizations into the 527 category.
The comment period for this proposed change ends Feb 27. So far, most of the comments are from the right wing claiming that the changes will inhibit freedom of speech. This is not true. These groups can simply file as 527s & speak as much as they want.
Senator Schumer and other Senators sent this letter http://is.gd/... to the IRS urging these changes be made. With the House under the control of the GOP, no legislative fix is foreseeable. However, another path is being pursued by Senator Van Hollen and CREW to challenge the current IRS interpretation of the statute in court.
But the most promising short term fix is this proposed change to the definition of 502(c)(4)s by the IRS itself. For that, we need progressives to comment on the Proposed Rule to argue our case & offset the onslaught of misguided comments from the right.
Please follow this link to Comment on the Proposed Rule: http://is.gd/...
This is the comment I left:
Comment on IRS "Social Welfare" organizationsThis issue has gotten more traction in the right wing press & resulted in a heated exchange between McConnell & Reid on Thursday http://is.gd/... As Reid mentioned the Koch brothers, they entered the fray as well: http://is.gd/...
These changes are long overdue and do no more than correct the interpretation of a statute requiring that 501(c)(4) organizations be "exclusively" for "social welfare." Inexplicably, "exclusively" came to interpreted to mean <49%.
Reinstating the meaning of this statute does not infringe on freedom of speech since organizations can simply file as political organizations (527s). Organizations of all political persuasions have flocked to registering as 501(c)(4)s for one reason: to hide the names of their members & contributors. This allows wealthy individuals & organizations to influence political campaigns in secret.
The American people have a right to know who is paying for advertisements & other political information & activities so they can properly understand what vested interests may be involved.
Changing the regulations to comply with the clear statutory intent will go a long way toward restoring transparency to our political processes in a post-CItizens United world. Let political organizations file under 527 instead of 501(c)(4).l
Please help with this effort by leaving a comment. It matters. A lot.