IRS Review of NAACP’s Tax Exempt Status

Categories: Advocacy Letter

Recipient: IRS Commissioner Mark Everson

The Honorable Mark W. Everson
Commissioner
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue
Washington, DC 20224

Dear Commissioner Everson:

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, has grave concerns regarding the agency’s actions to review the tax exempt status of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). LCCR believes that it is antithetical to our country’s principles of free speech and democracy to use the tax code to silence those with opposing views. The IRS must not be allowed to unfairly attack organizations without basis or sufficient cause.

The IRS’s claims that the NAACP is in violation of any laws are at most unsubstantiated, and the timing, immediately before a presidential election, is questionable at best. Throughout its history, the NAACP has fought with consistent vigor for a diversity of ideals and beliefs and for freedom of speech – always in a nonpartisan manner. Your attempts to silence the NAACP for having done nothing wrong are absurd and disingenuous. The NAACP’s criticism of an administration’s policies is clearly a proper activity for an organization with a 501(c)(3) designation.

We are hopeful that history will not repeat itself. However, the attack on the NAACP is reminiscent of when the IRS engaged in similar activities intended to intimidate President Nixon’s political opponents and Nixon administration dissenters. As you may recall, the IRS was used to audit groups and individuals who had been critical of President Nixon. They were subsequently placed on an “enemies list,” were targeted for audit, and had their personal tax information made public. It was because of these tactics and improper behavior that America lost confidence in the IRS’s ability to enforce the law judiciously, and the agency’s reputation suffered immensely. Congress took appropriate measures and passed tough laws intended to shield American taxpayers from being used as political pawns by the IRS. Section 6103 of the tax code is intended to protect taxpayers from specifically the type of abuse being placed upon the NAACP.

LCCR believes that it is critical to maintain the integrity of our enforcement system. The IRS must be nonpartisan and professional. If you have any questions, please contact Nancy Zirkin at 202/263-2880.

Sincerely,

Wade Henderson, Executive Director
Nancy Zirkin, Deputy Director