Do White Supremacist Groups Deserve Tax-Exempt Status?
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by Causes | 8.30.17
What’s the story?
As the New York Times reported, a number of white supremacist organizations "including the New Century Foundation – which hosts an annual conference that has included neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan members, Holocaust deniers and eugenicists – are exempt from taxation."
In the past decade, four white nationalist groups registered as charities, including the New Century Foundation, have raised "more than $7.8 million in tax-deductible donations," according to the AP.
Jared Taylor, head of the New Century Foundation, said the group raises money for the benefit of the "white race."
Why does it matter?
Because of their status as 501(c)(3)nonprofits, groups like the New Century Foundation do not have to pay taxes on a majority of their revenue. "Donors to these groups can deduct their gifts," the Times explained, “and real estate that the groups own is generally exempt from property taxes. In addition, in the eyes of the organization and the public, being tax-exempt confers a certain legitimacy.”
The criteria for tax-exempt status is available here.
For many white supremacist groups, the claim for a 501(c)(3) status is on educational grounds. Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute, and VDare, for instance, "declare they do not hate others but rather promote whiteness," the Times reported. (Spencer’s National Policy Institute lost its tax-exempt status this year after failing to file its tax returns.)
In the past, the IRS has denied tax-exempt status to certain groups we’d now label as the "alt-right" on the grounds that they only existed to spread propaganda. “In 1978, the [IRS] refused to grant tax-exempt status to the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group that published an anti-Semitic newsletter,” the AP reported. “And in 1994, a court upheld the denial of tax-exempt status for the Nationalist Movement, a Mississippi-based white nationalist group.”
A Supreme Court ruling in 1983 added a specific extra-statutory rule for tax exemption. In Bob Jones University v. United States, SCOTUS declared that the IRS "could constitutionally revoke the tax exemption of a religiously affiliated university because its racist policy violated a ‘fundamental public policy,’" the Times explained. While SCOTUS didn’t describe how to determine what values are “fundamental public policy,” the Court did note that all branches of the government had been working towards desegregation, and therefore non-discrimination in schools was a fundamental public policy.
What do you think?
Are the white nationalist groups granted tax-exempt status violating fundamental public policy?
Samuel Brunson, a tax law professor at Loyola University in Chicago, told the AP, "It should make people uncomfortable that the government is subsidizing groups that espouse values that are incompatible with most Americans."
But Taylor – the head of the New Century Foundation which operates the American Renaissance online magazine – told the AP his group abides by all laws governing nonprofits.
"We certainly did not conceal our intentions," Taylor said. “I think we are educational in precisely the terms that Congress defined.” Referencing the $65,000 his group received in 2015, Taylor continued, “We hold it in trust for the white race. We take this seriously. This is not something we do for fun or profit. This is our duty to our people.”
What do you think? Should white supremacist groups be allowed tax-exempt status? Are they serving an educational purpose? Or do they violate fundamental public policy? Hit the Take Action button, tell your reps, then comment below.
(Photo Credit: adamkaz / iStockphoto)
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