Professor Donald Tobin was interviewed by the Boston NPR station on its show Here & Now about the Internal Revenue Service's investigation into groups classified as social welfare organizations (marked by the 501(c)(4) tax classification). The IRS was in search of groups that are not focusing primarly on the social welfare of the country, but have a strong political advocacy facet. Political advocacy groups might want to be classified as 501(c)(4) organizations because under that classification they do not have to disclose their donors.
"The key is if you are going to be engaged in candidate-type advocacy, and if you're going to intervene in elections and engage in election advocacy, we want disclosure of who your donors are," Tobin said.
“What groups are trying to do here is avoid having to disclose,” Tobin continued. “By earning the classification of social welfare, they’re avoiding the campaign disclosure that’s required for political organizations. So that’s really the underpinning of why we have this mess of the IRS having to get in and investigate and figure out whether an organization is political or not.”
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