Reform groups today sent a letter to members of the House Ways and Means Committee urging Representatives to oppose legislation currently under consideration by the Committee that would mandate a one-year delay in the current rulemaking by the Treasury Department/Internal Revenue Service to modify regulations governing standards for “social welfare” organizations under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. The legislation is scheduled for markup on February 11, 2014.

The groups include Americans for Campaign Reform, Brennan Center for Justice, the Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Demos, League of Women Voters, Public Citizen, The Sunlight Foundation and U.S PIRG.

According to the letter:

The legislation would also prohibit the Treasury Department/IRS from modifying the rules used to determine whether an organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare for purposes of tax code Section 501(c)(4). This prohibition would stop the adoption of new rules needed in order to properly comply with the Internal Revenue Code and court decisions interpreting the Code.

There is no legitimate justification for delaying the current rulemaking, the letter stated.  “The Treasury Department/IRS rulemaking is long overdue as the current regulations governing these activities were adopted more than a half century ago and are obsolete,” according to the letter.

According to the letter from reform groups, delaying the rulemaking will “only serve to prolong the opportunity for the abuses of the tax laws that have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of undisclosed “dark” money flowing into federal elections. The delay will also continue the uncertainty that non-profit organizations on both sides of the aisle feel concerning the vague rules that currently exist.”

According to the letter:

The rulemaking is moving through a careful review process to receive and consider comments from the public. We recognize that changes are called for in the initial Treasury Department/IRS proposal, such as the need to except nonpartisan registration and nonpartisan get out the vote activities from the definition of “candidate-related political activity.” There has been bipartisan support for such changes in the proposal.

The letter concludes:

We strongly urge you to oppose the legislation in the Ways and Means Committee scheduled for markup on February 11, 2014 that would delay or otherwise hinder the current IRS rulemaking.

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