Elsewhere online
January 23, 2015

IRS Audits Are Rare for Politically Active Nonprofits

The Internal Revenue Service almost never audits nonprofit organizations to determine if they are flouting restrictions on electioneering, according to the Center for Public Integrity. Agency data obtained by the news organization show audits of 26 organizations specifically for politicking since 2010, when the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling ushered in a new era of campaign activity by "dark money" groups that are not required to disclose donors.

The investigative drought comes as budget cuts have slashed the number of IRS workers charged with vetting and overseeing nonprofits and the number of entities applying for 501(c)(4) "social welfare" status—the designation often used by politically active nonprofits—has skyrocketed. Such groups, which under current law are not supposed to engage in electoral politics as their primary activity, now spend hundreds of millions of dollars per election cycle on campaign activities.