IRS to issue new rules on dark money spending by nonprofits

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Image credit: C-SPAN

In an important development, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen announced that the agency will take steps to ensure it curbs the proliferation of dark money in federal elections.

In an interview with the Center for Public Integrity, Koskinen spelled out three issues the agency will address when it drafts rules about the regulation of political activity by nonprofit organizations: “What should be the definition, to whom should it apply and how much … can you do before you jeopardize your exemption?”

This is an important announcement, as rules drafted by the IRS in November had to be withdrawn due to widespread criticism from both the left and the right. At the time, Sunlight urged the agency to redraft rather than give up on new rules; in comments to the agency, Sunlight offered suggestions for rules that would ensure that donors to political groups are publicly disclosed in order to deter corruption and the appearance of corruption, while protecting the rights of groups to engage in non-election related activities.

New rules on political activities of nonprofits are expected in early 2015 — and are long overdue. Sunlight applauds Koskinen’s commitment to crafting regulations that will help disinfect elections from the influence of secret money while protecting the rights of organizations truly committed to promoting social welfare.