In April 2019, Everytown Filed a Complaint Calling for the IRS To Investigate the NRA’s Tax-Exempt Status; Everytown Re-Upped That Call Earlier this Year
The Letter, Which Comes After the New York and DC Attorneys General Filed Lawsuits Against the NRA, Pushes the IRS to Investigate the NRA’s Tax-Exempt Status
WASHINGTON –– Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements applauding members of the House Oversight and Ways & Means Committees for writing a letter calling on the IRS to investigate the tax-exempt status of the NRA and the NRA Foundation due to “egregious self-dealing” and “a disturbing pattern of abusing their not-for profit status.” The letter, which is led by Representatives Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) and signed by 32 other Committee members, follows lawsuits filed against the NRA by the New York and DC attorneys general last month.
Everytown first filed a complaint calling for the IRS to investigate the NRA’s tax exempt status in 2019, then re-upped that call earlier this year.
“American taxpayers deserve answers when it comes to the growing evidence that NRA leaders abused the organization’s tax-exempt status and turned it into their personal slush fund,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We applaud members of the House Oversight and Ways & Means Committees for asking the IRS to investigate the NRA, and we urge the IRS to hold the organization accountable for its corruption.”
“An organization can either remain exempt from paying taxes or funnel millions of dollars to its leadership –– but it definitely shouldn’t be allowed to do both,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “We’re grateful to members of House Oversight and Ways & Means Committees for shining a light on the NRA’s corruption and calling for the IRS to investigate its tax-exempt status.”
This letter, first reported by Mother Jones, asserts that, “Tax-exempt organizations must adhere to strict, specific requirements to retain their exemption from federal tax law – and no tax-exempt organization is above the law.” In addition to Representatives Schneider and Gomez, it is signed by Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Gerald Connelly (D-VA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Danny Davis (D-IL), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), John Larson (D-CT), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Linda Sanchez (D-TX), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Mike Thompson (D-CA). The letter adds that, “[o]ur request for an IRS review is irrespective of any policy differences we may have with the NRA; our request is based upon the foundational principle that tax-exempt organizations must play by the rules in order to enjoy their privileged status.”
This pressure on the NRA comes at a time when it is already mired in immense legal, financial, and internal turmoil.
- Legal: Earlier this month, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed suit seeking to dissolve the NRA for violating New York charities law. On the same day, DC Attorney General Karl Racine sued the NRA for allegedly exerting undue influence over the NRA Foundation. Additionally, the NRA was recently hit with a class action lawsuit, and it was already facing charges by New York State’s Department of Financial Services, and locked in various lawsuits with former business partner Ackerman McQueen. As a result of these legal troubles, the Trace reported allegations that the NRA paid its top lawyer an estimated $54 million in the last two years alone.
- Financial: The NRA is $57 million in debt, recently reportedly laid off and furloughed over 200 employees, and in 2019, its revenue from member dues declined by 34% while its “legal, audit, and tax costs” increased by 39%. Additionally, earlier this year, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said that the NRA suffered “about a $100 million hit” in 2018 and 2019, and that for the NRA “to survive,” he took “about $80 million” out of the budget. This follows years of alleged financial mismanagement, during which NRA executive pay has skyrocketed, money has flowed to “unpaid” board members, and the NRA’s own board members and accountants have called into question lavish, legally suspect personal spending by its leadership.
- Internal: Experts believe that Wayne LaPierre’s removal is “a foregone conclusion” due to the NRA’s legal troubles. Additionally, according to The Guardian, the NRA’s “drop in revenues accelerated in 2019 when several large NRA donors began a drive to oust LaPierre over allegations of mismanagement and self-dealing, and to promote reforms.” These donors have boasted that “$165 million in donations and planned gifts had been withheld.”
A detailed history of the NRA’s finances and litigation can be found on NRAWatch.org.