SOURCE: Tax Revolution Institute

Tax Revolution Institute

September 20, 2016 11:42 ET

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

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - September 20, 2016) - 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 an already diverse group of nonprofits, including Fight for the Future, Move to Amend, and Coffee Party USA.

"No bureaucrat should be able to decide whether citizens can exercise political free speech; least of all the tax man," said Josh Withrow, Director of Public Policy at Free the People. "It's great to see such a broad coalition of advocacy groups setting aside their differences and demanding that the IRS keep its hands off of our right to band together and engage in the vigorous public debate on the role of government that defines us as a free people."

Hesham El-Meligy, co-founder of Muslims for Liberty, explained, "This regulation will stifle free speech and the good that comes out of not-for-profits. Instead of focusing on the work and education, not-for-profits will calculate every step and abstain from a lot of the good they are doing, fearing the worst."

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

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 Marthews, 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 www.decidethefuture.org, 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 remarkable to see the diversity of organizations putting divisive labels behind them 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.'"

For more information, go to FirstAA.org.

About the Tax Revolution Institute

The Tax Revolution Institute (TRI) is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting transparency, accountability, and integrity at all levels of the US tax system, while researching and developing simple and innovative tax-reform solutions to advance freedom and prosperity for all Americans.

Through FOIA requests, briefings, testimonies, advocacy, research studies, white papers, and educational programs, TRI will expose corruption, fraud, and incompetence within the US tax system. It will provide educational tools and resources for tax accountability to policy makers, grassroots organizations, and the American public.

Media Kit: https://taxrevolution.us/media-kit/

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