AMA Backs IRS Change to Nonprofit Rules

May 23, 2014
Courtesy of American Motorcyclist Association
American Motorcyclist Association

The American Motorcyclist Association supports an Internal Revenue Service decision to rewrite its proposed rule that would have redefined political activity and severely restricted how nonprofit groups, such as the AMA, are allowed to spend money and interact with members.

The IRS announced Thursday that it has postponed public hearings planned for this summer after receiving more than 150,000 comments on the proposed rule, a record response for the agency.

The agency declined to specify a timetable for issuing a final rule or reveal any proposed revisions to the rule.

Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, applauded the IRS decision to rewrite the rule.

“The rule, as proposed, would have stifled nonpartisan speech and created a de facto blackout period around elections,” said Allard, who testified about the rule before a congressional subcommittee in February.

At a time when the proportion of eligible voters casting a ballot is declining, the AMA opposes any efforts to restrict access to voter registration drives, voter guides or information related to their elected representatives’ voting records, Allard said.

Communications about legislation or public policy have never been restricted for this IRS class of nonprofit organization. Since the late 1950s, the IRS has allowed 501(c)(4) nonprofits — such as the AMA — to participate in issue-based advocacy, as long as their primary focus remains social welfare.

Among other provisions, the IRS proposal would have classified as political activity any communication to the public that even mentions a political candidate within 60 days of an election.

“This would have created an odd situation,” Allard said. “The timing of the speech would be what makes it political, not the content.”


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