Over 50 Nonprofits Demand Congress Act to Protect Free Speech as Deadline Looms

— Published with permission from the Tax Revolution Institute —

Washington, DC — On October 1, the congressional deadline to prevent the IRS from trampling over the free-speech rights of nonprofits will expire, and more than four dozen organizations from across the country have now banded together to demand that Congress take action.

In early August, the Tax Revolution Institute (TRI) — a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that promotes “justice and integrity in the tax system” — launched the First Amendment Alliance: a nonpartisan effort to protect the free-speech rights of nonprofits.

Since that time, the First Amendment Alliance (1AA) has swelled in size, now totaling over 50 groups that represent every segment of the political spectrum and civil society. The 1AA’s mission is to prevent the IRS from implementing Regulation 134417–13, otherwise known as the IRS “muzzle rule.”

Organizations such as Free the People, Muslims for Liberty, and Restore the Fourth have recently joined the cause, offering their support and solidarity to already diverse group of nonprofits, including Fight for the Future, Move to Amend, and Coffee Party USA.

The full list of organizations that currently form the 1AA now includes: Coffee Party USA, People Against the NDAA, Common Ground Movement, Our America Initiative, Move to Amend, Fight for the Future, Florida Taxpayers Union, Ax the Tax, the Florida Tea Party, National Association of Parents, the Central Florida Tea Party, Popular Resistance, the Christian Party of America,, the Patriot Coalition, The FREEDOM! Fund, Idaho Freedom Foundation, Idaho Freedom Action, Christian Party of North Carolina, Taxpayers United of America, Taxpayer Education Foundation, The Prompting, Human Solution International, Liberty Initiative Fund, Citizens In Charge, Citizens In Charge Foundation, Liberty Justice Center, Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, Liberty Guard, Put Growth First, Free the People, Benjamin Rush Institute, Her Rights, We Resist, Blue Republican, Liberate Ohio, Muslims for Liberty, Parents Teachers and Advocates, SoCal Tax Revolt Coalition Inc, Mr. Ed’s Circle of Trust Inc, Community Steeple Media LLC, Libertarian Party of Broward County, Restore the Fourth, Florida Cop Watch, Granite Institute, Rio Grande Foundation, Ronald Reagan Republican Assemblies of Florida, Fully Informed Jury Association of Florida, and Eight is Enough Orlando.

The muzzle rule — initially introduced by the IRS in 2013 — aims to redefine the meaning of “electioneering” to include constitutionally protected speech, such as news reporting and issue advocacy. As TRI has previously noted, the agency’s proposed definition of electioneering is so broad that any discussion of politicians, their voting records, or even the mere mention of a political candidate’s name, is enough to have an organization stripped of its tax-exempt status.

Alex Matthews, National Chair of Restore the Fourth, says the muzzle rule would hinder his organization’s ability to continue programs aimed at educating the American public on crucial issues. “We developed, a vital public-education tool for ‘Snowden voters’ concerned about mass surveillance programs,” he said. “The IRS rule changes would prevent us from maintaining this tool under our 501(c)(4) status.”

In November 2015, Congress intervened to defund the IRS from taking action on this new rule, but those protections are set to expire on October 1 of this year. TRI has previously called on concerned citizens and organizations affected by this rule to act now by joining the First Amendment Alliance and taking the fight back to Congress.

“It is truly great to see the diversity of organizations getting past the divide and conquer labels to unite and stand for our most basic right of free speech,” TRI Program Director Jason Casella said. “As Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public Liberty, without freedom of speech.’”

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