Protecting non-profit organizations from the IRS

Georgia Public Policy Foundation is joining over 70 groups and organizations in signing an amicus brief that defends the rights of Americans to support the causes they believe in without fear of harassment or intimidation.

The amicus brief, written by Advancing American Freedom (AAF), pertains to Buckeye Institute v. IRS, a case over whether 501 (c)(3) organizations must disclose their donors in federal tax filings for IRS surveillance.

“This demand from the Internal Revenue Service is both invasive and unjustified; non-profit organizations are protected by the First Amendment and should never be forced by the government to disclose their donors,” said J. Marc Wheat, AFF General Counsel. “The IRS’s requirement chills donors’ First Amendment speech and assembly rights out of fear of the IRS mishandling confidential information or political retribution for private donations. Advancing American Freedom will continue to defend Americans’ rights against burdensome regulations that leave them vulnerable to the government.”

The amicus brief highlights the importance of free speech and free association, claiming that the IRS  infringes on these rights by compelling the disclosure of donor information. It references the McCarthy and Civil Rights eras, in which core speech and associational rights were protected by the First Amendment. As it states, “compelled disclosure of speakers’ associations must survive exacting scrutiny.” It also explains that in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, the Supreme Court used the same standard regarding compelled disclosure of non-profit donors. Further, the brief claims that “the IRS fails to demonstrate any need for the compelled up-front disclosure of Schedule B’s donor information to further its interest in revenue collection.”

The report points out the fact that donor information is unnecessary for the operations of the IRS and goes on to highlight the IRS’s troubled history of handling taxpayer information, which could deter individuals and organizations from freely associating with one another. As it concludes, “Because the compelled disclosure is both under- and overinclusive in furthering the IRS’s interest, and cannot be justified based on administrative convenience, it fails exacting scrutiny. And just as California failed to ensure the confidentiality of donor information, the IRS’s history of mishandling confidential taxpayer information threatens to chill the speech and association rights of 501(c)(3) organizations and their donors.”

This amicus brief is another important rejection of government overreach. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation remains staunchly committed to upholding freedom, including the First Amendment rights of free speech and association, which form the bedrock of our civilization.

« Previous Next »