Americans Elect wants to run the first ever national online election to nominate a candidate for president in six months’ time, but it seems it can’t or won’t get its paperwork straight.
I’ve been asking for Americans Elect to share its publicly-required tax documentation for nearly a year now, and Americans Elect had not complied at all, even though there is a 30-day deadline for corporations like Americans Elect to do so. But four days ago, that seemed to change. Four days ago, Americans Elect CEO Kahlil Byrd seemed to promise that Americans Elect would place a copy of its IRS Form 1024 on its webpage. 501c4 corporations are required by the IRS to share Form 1024 with members of the public upon request, and for good reason: Form 1024 shares a number of details about the inner workings of corporations that aim to transform American politics, as Americans Elect surely does. The IRS requirements for disclosure of Form 1024 are there to maintain transparency and openness in American politics.
Instead of releasing Form 1024 this morning, Americans Elect Chief Technology Officer Joshua Levine released a brief note declaring that Americans Elect has refused to create any Form 1024 at all. Levine wrote:
Americans Elect is organized and operated as a social welfare organization under Section 501(c)(4). As a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(4), Americans Elect is not required to file an application for recognition of exemption (Form 1024) with the Internal Revenue Service in order to qualify for tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(4). Only certain organizations must apply for recognition of exemption to qualify for federal tax-exempt status, including most Section 501(c)(3) organizations. See Instructions for IRS Form 1024, Purpose of Form, at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1024.pdf.
But that’s not what http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1024.pdf says. There is no declaration that 501(c)(4)s don’t have to fill out Form 1024. On the contrary, that file, which contains IRS instructions for filling out Form 1024, declares that “a social welfare organization seeking recognition under section 501(c)(4) must complete Parts I through III and Schedule B.”
Further, IRS Publication 557, which has to do with the reporting requirements of Section 501c4, declares:
501(c)(4) – Civic Leagues and Social Welfare Organizations
If your organization is not organized for profit and will be operated only to promote social welfare to benefit the community, you should file Form 1024 to apply for recognition of exemption from federal income tax under section 501(c)(4). The discussion that follows describes the information you must provide when applying. For application procedures, see chapter 1….
Oral requests for recognition of exemption will not be considered by the IRS. Your application for tax-exempt status must be in writing using the appropriate forms as discussed below.
Form 1024 itself has a special subsection, Schedule B, devoted specifically to 501(c)(4) corporations just like Americans Elect.
Multiple IRS documents seem to very clearly state that Americans Elect must file Form 1024. Form 1024 contains information that you deserve to know, considering that Americans Elect is trying to elect a President and all. But Americans Elect refuses to let you know. Americans Elect refuses to be transparent. Americans Elect is holding the truth about itself back from all of us.
Why? What is Americans Elect so interested in hiding? I expect we’ll find out when Americans Elect has finished stonewalling and finally complies with IRS regulations. That should be in 2013, after the next election is over.