January 13, 2014

IRS Attempts to Muzzle 501(c)(4)
Organizations from Talking About Politics

William A. Estrada, Esq.
Director of Federal Relations


Will Estrada has been leading our efforts to defend homeschooling on Capitol Hill since 2006. As the oldest of eight kids, and a homeschool graduate who married a homeschool graduate, he has a passion for protecting homeschool freedom. Read more >>

For More Information

Coalition Letter Against Proposed Rule

Human Events News Story

Legal Summary of Proposed Rule

Imagine if unelected federal bureaucrats from the IRS ordered HSLDA and similar organizations to never hold another nonpartisan voter registration drive, or said that it was illegal for HSLDA to mention the name of a local, state, or federal elected official 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election.

Imagine no longer. The IRS, in keeping with its annual attempt to be considered America’s favorite government bureaucracy, issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Friday, November 29, 2013 (the day after Thanksgiving!) seeking public comments on this draconian proposal.

HSLDA is incorporated as a 501(c)(4) organization. The 501(c)(4) status has existed since 1959. In fact, ever since the income tax was first established in 1913, the federal government included exemptions from federal income taxes for organizations which “promote social welfare.” This is because our government for the longest time has recognized that it is healthy for democracy for Americans to band together into organizations to speak with one voice about an issue. The NRA, the Sierra Club, the ACLU, and thousands of other organizations from every political affiliation are all 501(c)(4) organizations.

Forced Silence

With this proposed rule, however, the IRS—and our federal government—has taken the position that it is against public policy for organizations to communicate with their membership and the public about what government is doing. If this proposed rule is finalized, countless organizations will be unable to tell their members what the government is doing, and how they can make a difference.

In addition, although the proposed rule only applies to 501(c)(4) organizations such as HSLDA, it will likely impact 501(c)(3) charities such as churches and many small homeschool support groups. These entities are currently allowed to hold nonpartisan voter registration drives and release nonpartisan voter guides, but if this proposed rule is finalized, they could be targeted by the IRS next.

On Friday, January 10, HSLDA filed a public comment opposing this proposed rule. We encourage you to also file a public comment opposing this proposed rule. Regardless of your political views, it is outrageous for the federal government to even consider restricting the free speech rights of American citizens who are part of an organization dedicated to amplifying their voice on a certain issue.

What You Can Do

Please click here to read HSLDA’s public comments. Then please click here to go to the Federal Register page to read this proposed rule, and to file a public comment (look for the green button that says “submit a formal comment.”) Please note that your name will be public, but you are not required to include your address.

By law, the IRS is required to read and address every comment. The more citizens who file public comments, the more Congress, the administration, the media, and others will take notice of this unprecedented attack against the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

It is not necessary to identify yourself as a homeschooler. Your comment can be very simple and merely urge the IRS to reject the proposed rule as it violates the First Amendment’s Free Speech clause. Or, you can use the sample text below and add to it as you wish.

Suggested Sample Comment: “I urge the IRS to reject this proposed rule in its entirety. This proposed rule violates the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause. It silences ordinary Americans who join a 501(c)(4) organization in order to join with other Americans in a common cause. It makes it harder for ordinary Americans to find out what their government is doing at the local, state, and federal level. This proposed rule is unnecessary.”

Since HSLDA was founded in 1983, we have fought for our members and the homeschool community by ensuring that elected officials leave homeschool freedom alone. We have also fought for free speech, so that American citizens can hold their government accountable. We will not rest until this proposed rule is defeated, either by the IRS withdrawing it, through congressional action, or in the courts.

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