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The NRA’s Tax Exempt Status is Under Fire

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Over the past several months numerous articles have emerged documenting questionable practices within the NRA's leadership. While the sources are ones that undoubtedly have an anti-gun tilt or even agenda, much of the information had been confirmed by NRA insiders. Just this past week, an article was published in the New Yorker which outlined a swath of problems including related party transactions (self-dealing), financial mismanagement, and complaints regarding the lack of transparency.

On Thursday, Michael Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund filed a Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint with the IRS. The complaint alleges that Directors or Officers are using income or assets for personal gain and the organization itself is engaged in commercial, for-profit business activity.

The complaint was accompanied by a five-page letter which detailed the alleged violations and requested that the IRS investigate NRA's tax-exempt status and revoke it if appropriate.

Accordingly, and for the reasons set forth below, we call on the IRS to commence an investigation into whether (i) the NRA has violated the federal laws governing 501(c)(4) charitable organizations, and (ii) if so, consider what remedies are warranted, including potential revocation of the NRA’s 501(c)(4) status.

The letter cites a number of matters raised in the New Yorker article as a basis for an investigation. Reports such as the NRA Board of Directors Audit Committee retroactively signing off on some of NRA's financial disclosures (which have been characterized as “problematic”) and documentation that was purportedly prepared in advance of an emergency meeting to discuss whistleblower reports (listing concerns that NRA was paying over-billed, deceptive, and vague invoices to preferred vendors) were listed as a few reasons for the basis of an investigation.

In response to the New Yorker piece, Bill Brewer, a lawyer who represents the NRA, said that the organization “has serious concerns about the accuracy of this reporting and The New Yorker’s sources. Of course, we cannot comment on privileged communications or personnel matters.”

Even if the IRS takes no action against the NRA, the organization's well-being is at serious risk. NRA is chartered in New York, which means that it is subject to New York laws. It is no secret that Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James harbor disdain for the organization. As reported in the New Yorker

James Fishman, a co-author of “New York Nonprofit Law and Practice: With Tax Analysis,” a leading text on nonprofit law, [stated], “There is no such thing as a director who doesn’t direct. You’re responsible to make yourself aware of what’s going on. If the board doesn’t know, they’ve breached their duty of care, which is against the law in New York,”… According to Owens, the former I.R.S. official, New York State “could sanction board members, remove board members, disband the board, or close down the organization entirely.”

About the Author

Adam Kraut is a firearms law attorney practicing in southeastern PA and across the country federally. He hosts The Legal Brief, a show dedicated to crushing the various myths and misinformation around various areas of the gun world. He was also the general manager of a gun store in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

Instagram: @theadamkraut
Twitter: @theadamkraut


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