IRS Continues to Seek NAACP Speech Documents

Did the NAACP's chairman violate nonprofit rules by criticizing President Bush in a speech last year? That is the question the Internal Revenue Service has been trying to answer for some time, TaxAnalysts.com reported.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has refused for the second time this year to turn over documents tied to the speech by the civil rights group's chairman Julian Bond that the IRS contend may have amounted to a political campaign, in violation of section 501(c)(3) of the tax code.

The NAACP's counsel, Marc Owens of Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, sent a letter on Feb. 23 to the IRS's Area Counsel Laurence D. Ziegler stating the NAACP had not complied with the IRS's January summons to produce the documents because the group believed the summons was unenforceable.

Ziegler replied that “there is ample judicial and statutory authority to support the Service's action in commencing the examination into the NAACP's activities, as well as supporting enforcement of the summons at issue.”

Ziegler made it clear that the NAACP's failure to comply with the summons could result in legal action against the organization, TaxAnalysts.com reported, adding the NAACP was ordered to appear before a revenue agent on March 11 with the documents. He offered to meet with Owens to go over the NAACP's concerns.

On March 10, Owens and Christopher S. Rizek, also of Caplin & Drysdale, thanked Ziegler for a March 2 conference call in which the IRS said it had drawn no conclusions as to whether Bond's speech constituted prohibited political campaign intervention, TaxAnalysts.com reported.

The NAACP's attorneys said they are clear that the IRS is not calling the political statements “flagrant” which is why the IRS is not taking immediate tax action against the organization. They asked the IRS to close the investigation and indicated they would not appear at the March 11 meeting.

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