The IRS will issue another round of proposed rules governing nonprofit groups in March of 2015, according to the regulatory agenda issued by the Treasury Department.
The first round of these rules, unveiled in November of last year in response to the targeting scandal and the increased political activity of nonprofit groups in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, sparked a bipartisan political firestorm. Groups on the right and the left charged that, by classifying much of their routine activity, like voter education and registration, as political activity, the rules would endanger their tax-exempt status. The rules elicited a record number of comments — over 150,000, mostly negative — to the IRS website from nonprofit groups and citizens, and in the end caused the agency to back down. In May, IRS commissioner John Koskinen announced that the rules would be rewritten.
Now, that process is underway. In the spring, the IRS said that much of the original language was likely to stay, and an IRS official told Politico that the agency “certainly is not starting over and certainly not starting from scratch.”
The IRS has not returned a request for comment, but if that remains true, another heated battle over the agency’s right and ability to regulate political speech is on its way.