IRS Should Adopt Proposed Privacy Rule

Compelled disclosure of donors to civil society groups offends the First Amendment

November 5, 2019   •  By IFS Staff   •  
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Alexandria, VA – The Institute for Free Speech filed comments with the Internal Revenue Service late yesterday in support of a proposed agency rulemaking to protect the personal information of nonprofit donors.

The proposed rule would end a requirement that all nonprofits provide the IRS with a list of their contributors’ names and addresses. Under the proposal, only political committees and organizations whose donors receive a tax deduction would continue to report this information.

“The IRS should not look over your shoulder every time you support a nonprofit. Collecting donor information is not necessary to enforce the tax law and deters support for worthy causes,” said Institute for Free Speech President David Keating.

The proposed rule would also prevent inadvertent disclosures of confidential donor information. It would not affect any publicly available information, which does not include donor names and addresses.

“Warehousing large amounts of private donor information increases the risk of inadvertent or illegal disclosure. Lifting this burden from the IRS decreases the likelihood of donor exposure, which is significant in light of disclosures of sensitive contributor information in recent years,” reads the Institute’s comments.

The IRS initially announced a revenue ruling in July 2018 that it would no longer require nonprofits, other than 501(c)(3) nonprofits and 527 organizations, to report donor names and addresses. Montana Governor Steve Bullock filed a lawsuit challenging that decision, and a federal district court ruled that the IRS must implement its policy change through the standard rulemaking process. The IRS then announced this rulemaking on September 10, 2019.

To read the Institute’s comments, click here.

About the Institute for Free Speech

The Institute for Free Speech is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes and defends the First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government. Originally known as the Center for Competitive Politics, it was founded in 2005 by Bradley A. Smith, a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. The Institute is the nation’s largest organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights.

IFS Staff

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