Common Cause

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Scott Swenson, 202 736-5713

With DoJ Investigation Complete, IRS Should Re-focus on Writing Clear Rules for Political Nonprofits

Statement by Stephen Spaulding, Common Cause Senior Policy Counsel and Legal Director

WASHINGTON - “The side-show around Lois Lerner is no longer an excuse for the IRS's failure to provide clear guidance on the limits -- for tax purposes -- of political activity by social welfare organizations. There’s a direct link between the ‘mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia’ identified by the Justice Department today and the IRS’ loophole-ridden regulations on campaign-related political activities by ‘social welfare’ nonprofit organizations. It's long past time to rewrite and reform these rules. 

“Those rules are so vague and wrongly-drawn that political operatives have exploited them to establish phony social welfare groups and pump hundreds of millions of dollars from secret sources into our elections.  “It’s more important than ever that the IRS write new rules that are consistent with the Internal Revenue Code, clarify what constitutes political activity under the tax laws, and clearly state that true social welfare groups can spend no more than an insubstantial amount of their resources on political activity. When he testifies in the Senate on Tuesday, Commissioner Koskinen should lay out a specific plan and a tight timeline to have new, clear rules in place.”


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Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

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