To: IRS Acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel

Tell the IRS: Enforce the Law, Stop Secret Campaign Spending

Stop Karl Rove and others from manipulating the tax rules to channel hundreds of millions of dollars of Dark Money into our elections. Enforce the law that requires “social welfare” organizations to be devoted exclusively to social welfare.

Why is this important?

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s horrendous Citizens United ruling, some tax-exempt special interest groups are exploiting an IRS rule to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into elections from undisclosed sources. Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS alone spent more than $70 million in “Dark Money” in the 2012 elections.

These so-called “social welfare” organizations, which qualify as tax exempt under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, give the super-rich and corporations a way to secretly spend unlimited amounts of money on campaign advertising. The victims of attack ads from these groups are hamstrung in fighting back, because they are unable to identify and publicize the vested interests that are attacking them.

But here’s the thing: Federal law says that 501(c)(4) organizations must be devoted *exclusively* to social welfare. By permitting these groups to operate as tax exempt despite spending as much as half of their revenue influencing elections, the Internal Revenue Service is enabling — even encouraging — them to flout the law.

If the IRS enforced the law that Congress enacted, 501(c)(4) organizations would not be permitted to engage in substantial election-related activities. Instead, people who wanted to contribute to influence elections would have to give money to political committees, which are set up for that purpose and which must disclose their donors.

Reform advocates have filed a lawsuit to force the IRS to change its rules to comply with the law. But no lawsuit should be necessary. The IRS can and should correct its position on its own.

Tell the IRS to enforce the law and end Dark Money election spending.

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