IRS Moves to Threaten Second Amendment Newsletters, E-mail Alerts
Gun Owners of America
8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102
Springfield, VA 22151
Thursday, January 15
The ink is barely dry on the Supreme Court's devastating decision in McConnell v. FEC -- the so-called campaign finance case that GOA was involved in. That decision severely restricted broadcast communications, thus making it more difficult for GOA to hold legislators accountable on Second Amendment issues.
Now, the IRS is already leaping forward to expand the Court's ruling to include GOA newsletters, e-mail alerts, and other Second Amendment communications.
Put out for comment on December 23, 2003 -- when, presumably, no one would notice -- proposed IRS Revenue Ruling 2004-6 creates a broad new set of ambiguous standards which groups like GOA must follow in order to avoid losing all or part of their tax-exempt status.
Under the proposed Revenue Ruling, the IRS would create a vague "balancing test" to determine whether GOA communications would be "permitted" by the government.
If the communication occurred close to an election, mentioned an officeholder who was running for reelection, and was targeted to put pressure on congressmen through constituents in each representative's district, all of these factors would push toward outlawing the communication.
Although the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection law was repressive enough, the proposed Revenue Ruling would go far beyond this anti-gun statute:
* Unlike McCain-Feingold, the proposed Revenue Ruling would not be restricted to broadcast ads. Rather, it would apply to newspaper ads, e-mail alerts, newsletters, and other communications by organizations such as GOA.
* Unlike McCain-Feingold, the proposed Revenue Ruling would not automatically exempt communications which occurred more than 60 days prior to an election -- or which fell below a certain monetary threshold.
* Unlike McCain-Feingold, the proposed Revenue Ruling would contain no fixed standards for compliance. Rather every GOA newsletter or alert would have to be published with the realization that the government, after the fact, could apply its vague criteria to determine that is was "impermissible."
For example, when GOA learned that an anti-gun rider had been placed on a Defense authorization bill in September 2000, GOA alerted its members to this provision which would have allowed the Dept. of Defense to confiscate and destroy any military surplus item that had ever been sold by the government.
M1 Carbines, 1903 Springfields, Colt SAAs, uniforms, ammo, scopes -- and much more. All these privately-owned items could have been confiscated and destroyed by the feds.
GOA generated a groundswell of nationwide opposition against the confiscation attempt. But we especially targeted our focus on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The message evidently got through, as the Committee Chairman's office called GOA to discuss this problem after he received hoards of calls, postcards and e-mails from our members. The provision was removed, and Second Amendment rights were preserved.
But had this IRS regulation been in effect in 2000, the agency (which then was under Clinton's control) could have RETROACTIVELY punished GOA, stating that our activity would have been impermissible if just one of the targeted Senators had been facing reelection!
This new regulation would allow lawmakers to load up gun bills prior to an election, secure in the knowledge that GOA won't be able to let you guys know about them in time.
GOA has formally lodged a protest with the IRS regarding this expansion and abuse of power. To read the GOA comments, go to http://www.gunowners.org/fs0403.htm.
It is imperative that this rule be defeated!
ACTION: Contact your congressmen. Ask them to write the IRS and demand that it withdraw proposed Revenue Ruling 2004-6. You can contact your Representative and Senators by visiting the Gun Owners Legislative Action Center at http://www.gunowners.org/activism.htm to send them a pre-written e-mail message.
Your Representative and Senators must submit their comments to the IRS by January 26.
------ Pre-written message ------
The proposed IRS Revenue Ruling 2004-6 is an abomination.
It would put the government in charge of determining whether a broad range of newsletters, alerts, and other communications would be "allowed" by organizations such as Gun Owners of America and the National Rifle Association.
Unlike McCain-Feingold -- which was bad enough -- the proposed Revenue Ruling would not be limited to broadcast ads. It would have no monetary threshold. And it would not be automatically inapplicable to communications which occur over 60 days before a general election.
Please write the Internal Revenue Service by January 26, 2004 and ask it to withdraw this ill-considered ruling. When submitting your comments to the IRS, please address your letter to the attention of Judy Kindell, T:EO:RA:G, 1111 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20224.
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