The U.S. Treasury is making moves to ensure certain tax-exempt groups, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) no longer need to disclose their financial donors to U.S. tax authorities. News of the strange maneuver comes at a time when the NRA is being investigated for meeting with Vladimir Putin’s inner-circle before spending upward of $30 million during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
The decision is being touted by conservatives as a move towards sustaining free speech. In reality, it allows labor unions, issue advocacy organizations, veterans groups, and other nonprofits to receive tax-exempt money while avoiding disclosure requirements that have been in place for decades.
In a statement regarding the plan, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said:
“Americans shouldn’t be required to send the IRS information that it doesn’t need to effectively enforce our tax laws, and the IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area.”
The donations given to these organizations is often referred to as “dark money.” While those donations are not provided to the public in the form of IRS reporting, the GOP argues that leaks can occur, exposing the free speech rights of major donors.
“It is important to emphasize that this change will in no way limit transparency,” Mnuchin said. “The same information about tax-exempt organizations that was previously available to the public will continue to be available, while private taxpayer information will be better protected.”
It’s open season on political influence which means “dark money” is likely to increase right before the 2018 mid-term elections.
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James Kosur is the former Editor-In-Chief and co-founder of Hill Reporter. He recently served as an editor for Business Insider and various other publications. James and his partners sold Hill Reporter to a new owner in July 2019.