New IRS policy allows some tax-exempt groups to veil donors

New IRS policy allows some tax-exempt groups to veil donors

The Trump administration is lifting requirements that some tax-exempt groups disclose the identities of their donors to federal tax authorities. The change benefits groups that spend millions of dollars on political ads, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and an organization tied to the billionaire Koch brothers. Republicans accused the IRS during President Barack Obama’s tenure of liberal bias and unfair targeting of conservative tax-exempt groups. Now those groups figure among the organizations allowed to withhold names of their donors under the new IRS policy announced late Monday. Treasury Department officials portrayed the changes as important free-speech and privacy protections for donors, while also preserving government transparency. But critics see the easing of disclosure requirements as opening the door to more dark money in political campaigns. "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," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. Mnuchin said the same information on tax-exempt groups that was previously available to the public will continue to be so, while private taxpayer data will be better protected. Critics said the action will hurt openness in political campaigns and allow hidden unscrupulous donors to funnel money into the system. "It is another Trump blow against transparency and for obscurity — hardly his promised swamp drainage," said Norman Eisen, the chief ethics lawyer in the […]

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