Donating On The DL Made Easier 🙊

John Greim—LightRocket via Getty Images

John Greim—LightRocket via Getty Images

In the name of privacy

The US Treasury announced that tax-exempt groups are no longer required to name their financial donors to the IRS. The decision veils the largest donors of nonprofits like the NRA, NAACP, and labor unions. The move comes right after the Justice Department filed charges against Maria Butina, an alleged Russian agent who infiltrated the NRA.

Why the change?

The change was a result of bipartisan concern that donations would cease if donors’ names were released to the public, which has unintentionally happened. It particularly eases political nonprofits’ campaign financing and shields them from potential government bias, which happened to GOP groups in 2013. It will also help reduce tax filing costs for organizations. 

The right has long-awaited the decision, hailing it as symbolic for enforcing free speech and Constitutional rights. They view the IRS’s handling of confidential donor information as careless and exploitive. They see the decision as finally amending conservative groups’ political harassment - one that had been instigated by their own government. Right folk pride privacy over transparency, especially when it comes to private citizens.

The left condemns the decision as an invitation for corruption that will influence the political landscape, as donors are no longer held accountable. They cite Maria Butina as an example of covert operations potentially happening in political nonprofits. Articles from the left focus less on Constitutional implications. They deem that the donor information is necessary to trace malicious contributions and thus maintain the ethics of nonprofits.

An excuse to fight "leaks"?

One of the key reasons cited for this change is that donations should be allowed to be kept private. Unfortunately, leaks have resulted in donor lists getting out. However, should leaks be a reason to completely stop collecting important information? Knowing where political funds come from is important and the lack of transparency only creates new shadows for shady characters to hide in. 



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