IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has proposed a rule that would destroy nonprofit organizations’ right to free speech. If Congress does not act by September 30th, the rule will go into effect automatically. The new rule would strip churches and charities of their nonprofit tax-exempt status if they engage in any kind of political speech. Who defines “political speech?” The IRS does, and they define it broadly. Under the new rule, nonprofit groups would not be allowed to:
publish voter guides
publish candidate questionnaires or position information
encourage people to register to vote
hold voter registration drives
discuss issues "related" to candidates
post a candidate's name on their web site, even if it was posted before that person became a candidate
The First Amendment guarantees every American the right to free speech. When we gather together to do good – whether that be through a charity, Scouting group, church, or hospital – those rights do not disappear. Imagine if companies and political parties were the only organizations allowed to even mention the most pressing issues of our time. That is what IRS Commissioner Koskinen aims to force on us with this rule.