ALG urges IRS to withdraw anti-free speech regulations, notes failure to include labor union political spending

More than $772 million in union political expenditures ignored by proposed IRS regulation

Fairfax, VA – Americans for Limited Government president Nathan Mehrens filed comments with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen today urging the withdrawal of newly proposed regulations governing tax exempt social welfare groups, because they fail to treat labor union political expenditures in a similar manner.

Mehrens details more than $772 million in reported labor union expenditures in 2012 alone, which would be ignored under the newly proposed regulations affecting social welfare tax exempt 501(c)(4) organizations.  Labor unions are tax exempt organizations that fall under section 501(c)(5) of the tax code, and for purposes are similar organizations as their social welfare brothers.

The Service Employees International Union led the political spending charge with almost $114 million in political activity, according to official filings submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor.  Not including SEIU and AFL-CIO spending (each of which have significant public employee membership), the top public employee unions spent more than $144 million on political activity and lobbying with AFSCME alone totaling more than $70 million in expenditures.

Mehrens concludes his comment saying, “As demonstrated above, the NPRM (regulation) fails to treat similar organizations in a similar manner. Additionally, the IRS doesn’t even bother to explain why they are proposing to treat similar organizations differently. Based on the foregoing, the NPRM should be immediately withdrawn.”

Among many provisions of the proposed regulation (NPRM), it would highly restrict the ability of tax exempt social welfare groups to mention any politician’s name in any communications within 30 days of the primary election or 60 days of the general election, and it redefines the terms candidate and political activity from the legal definitions found under federal election law.  The net effect of the changes would be to disembowel 501(c)(4) organizations capacity to engage in political discourse and education while leaving labor unions and other tax exempt organizations unscathed.

The deadline for comment submissions on the IRS regulation targeting tea party organizations is Thursday, February 27th.

A copy of Mr. Mehrens comment including a breakdown of the top fifteen union spenders is available here.

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at (703)383-0880 or at to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Nathan Mehrens.