White supremacist Richard Spencer gained notoriety outside the neo-Nazi circles he usually inhabits when a video of him being punched in the face by an anti-fascist protester went viral. Now, The LA Times reports that he’s been given a smackdown by the IRS.
The government agency has stripped Spencer’s non-profit organization, “The National Policy Institute,” of its tax-exempt status for failing to file its tax returns.
According to the Times, the inquiry:
“also raised questions about whether Spencer had properly filed paperwork allowing the National Policy Institute to raise funds in Virginia, its primary place of business, and whether Spencer, a Donald Trump supporter, had flouted federal rules that forbid nonprofits from supporting or opposing political candidates.”
Spencer, of course, blamed the problem on the IRS, saying that an error by the agency caused him to believe that the organization was not required to file federal tax returns, and vowing to appeal the decision. He also claimed to have filed the necessary forms to attain non-profit status in Virginia, but the state agency that regulates charities there said that it was reviewing the status of the “charity”.
The National Policy Institute is a white supremacist think tank that advocates of a separate country for whites only through “gentle ethnic cleansing” and is “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world” according to their website.
Since Spencer became head of the Institute in 2011, he’s been soliciting donations to fund the organization and its activities, including a website, publications, and white nationalist conferences. His donors have all been told that their contributions would be tax-deductible, but this new ruling will put an end to that for now and, hopefully, make fund-raising more difficult.
The IRS apparently initially misclassified The National Policy Institute as not needing to file returns, but when it discovered the mistake, it retroactively stripped the tax-exempt status. According to tax experts, Spencer should have known that it was necessary to file returns, Tax law is very specific in stating that if an organization fails to file for 3 consecutive years, it will lose its ability to continue as tax-exempt.
A fundraising drive at the end of last year brought in over $50,000 of donations, but according to the Virginia Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs, the Institute was “not authorized to solicit in Virginia,” the state in which it was based.
Spencer’s appeals of the ruling are unlikely to succeed since the IRS forbids non-profits from making partisan comments in official publications and functions. The Institute’s fund-raising pitch included the following quote:
“I invite you to join us in the fight against Hillary Clinton, and the liberal agenda that’s haunted our country for generations,” adding, “I ask you to make a investment of $25, $75, $100, or however much you can spare.”
Such an obviously politically partisan appeal, aimed at Trump supporters everywhere, would automatically disqualify Spencer’s sham “charity” from tax-exempt status. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of Neo-Nazis.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.