The U.S. Treasury has announced on Monday, July 16, that it will be freeing certain organizations from a previous requirement to identify their financial donors to U.S. tax agencies. Among these groups are some of the more politically active tax-exempt groups like the National Rifle Association and Planned Parenthood.
This policy change frees these issue advocacy groups, as well as labor unions and other nonprofits, from having to disclose non-tax-exempt donor information to the IRS. In effect, the announcement is a move to protect the identity of donors to some politically active groups, as Reuters pointed out.
Even as the IRS requirements were made under confidential disclosure arrangements, Conservatives have long pointed out that these were especially vulnerable to media leaks.
"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, adding that the new policy will not hinder transparency in any way.
Mnuchin added that the information on the tax-exempt organization that was previously made public will continue to be openly available. Private information relayed to the IRS, now restricted by the change, will be "better protected," the Treasury Secretary pointed out.
It was a move that was welcomed by Conservatives as added protection for free speech. "More and more states were using these documents to chill political discourse, rather than encourage it," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said about Monday's announcement, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, Democrats have slammed the decision as a "late-night giveaway to shady donors and interest groups," as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi linked the announcement to President Trump.
While certain groups are now exempted from sending all donor information to the IRS, they are still required to retain records of donations for audit purposes