IRS Campaign to #DrawTheLine

IRS Form 13909

IRS Form 13909 (screenshot)

Members of the public may send information that raises questions about an exempt organization’s compliance with the Internal Revenue Code. (Charities-&-Non-Profits/Political-Organizations/Exemption-Requirements-Political-Organizations)

In our efforts to #DrawTheLine between church and state in the conduct of our government and to #VoteOutTheReligiousRight, we have at our disposal a legal way to take some of the wind out of their (financial) sails. This is one of the strategies we developed while meeting with like-minded activists at the recent Netroots Nation and LGBT Netroots Connect.

Imagine a nationwide action of non-violent civil disobedience that can take place repeatedly over weeks and months and that you can participate in without ever leaving your own home. Enter IRS Form 13909, the complaint process citizens can use to object of any organization’s tax-exempt status.

It’s not just the status of these organizations, we’re talking about real money, the theft of American tax dollars to support unconstitutional activities such as using income/assets to support illegal activities or the organization’s engagement in excessive lobbying activities or deceptive or improper fundraising practices.

This form can be applied to religious organizations, such as The Family which we have discussed at length here. If you know of a church or a christianist organization that is soliciting contributions or votes for a particular candidate or party (or worse, in the case of The Family), this form is for you. If you have had enough from tax-exempt political action committees (PACs) which do not come close to abiding by by IRS guidelines, get all your friends and family to fill out one of these complaint forms. And send copies to both your State Tax Agency and State Charity Regulator. While the IRS is predictably vague, it still can be useful in bringing pressure from a mass of objectors.

A political organization must be organized for the primary purpose of carrying on exempt function activities. A political organization’s primary activities must be exempt function activities. A political organization may engage in activities that are not exempt function activities, but these may not be its primary activities. (Charities-&-Non-Profits/Political-Organizations/Exemption-Requirements-Political-Organizations)

We already know that GOP PACs have long crossed the line by overtly and secretly engaging in lots of non-exempt activities using the cover of their tax-exempt status. Koch is throwing a billion dollars into such PACs in this election cycle. But no one is complaining, calling them out. No one right now is putting pen to paper and filling out at complaint.

For sure this will be an uphill battle, but we cannot predict what the response would be if the IRS was literally flooded with 13909 forms.

I am eager to hear what you think about this idea? More about the #VoteOutTheReligiousRight campaign (here, here).


IRS Form 13909 Fact Sheet

IRS Form 13909

State Charity Regulator



Alison Gardner