The Buckeye Institute Urges IRS to Stop Collecting Donors’ Private Information

Dec 09, 2019

Columbus, OH – On Monday, The Buckeye Institute filed public comments with the Internal Revenue Service in support of a proposed rule change that would no longer require 501(C)(4) organizations to disclose donor lists to the government.

In his comments, Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute, noted the chilling effect donor disclosure can have on the freedom of association and wrote of Buckeye’s firsthand experience when the Institute received an audit notice from the IRS’s Cincinnati office shortly after the Ohio General Assembly relied upon Buckeye’s arguments in rejecting Medicaid expansion in 2013. Alt wrote, “Understandably, some Buckeye donors feared that Buckeye’s conspicuous audit was retaliation for Buckeye’s role in the Medicaid debate. Donors expressed concern that if their names appeared on Buckeye’s audited records, then they too would be subject to retaliatory audits or government antagonism. Thus, many donors made smaller, anonymous, cash donations—foregoing donation receipts—hoping to avoid political retribution.”

Alt went on to outline instances of government abuse and reprisals in Wisconsin and California, and in the illegal release of the National Organization for Marriage’s un-redacted Schedule B, which was published by The Huffington Post. In citing these cases, Alt commented that “[g]overnment assurances that such breaches will never happen again offer cold-comfort to wary organizations and their prospective donors.”

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