IRS Strikes Huge Blow to Richard Spencer's White Nationalist Nonprofit

IRS Strikes Huge Blow to Richard Spencer’s White Nationalist Nonprofit

Like an antifa on the streets of D.C., the IRS just socked it to white nationalist Richard Spencer and the National Policy Institute (NPI), stripping the alt-right organization of its tax-exempt status for lack of filing with the federal government.

As the L.A. Times reports:

“An inquiry by The Times 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 claimed in an interview over the phone Monday that an “IRS error” was to blame, leading him to believe that NPI “was not required to file federal tax returns.” He also said he plans to appeal the matter directly. He stated:

“I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to make a comment because I don’t understand this stuff. It’s a bit embarrassing, but it’s not good. We’ll figure it out.”

According to Spencer, the National Policy Institute also filed the appropriate paperwork for nonprofit status in Virginia, yet a Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services spokesperson stated that same day that NPI’s status is currently not active, but “under review.”

The National Policy Institute’s scheisty blunders go back to shortly after Spencer took the helm of the 501(c)(3) in 2011, when the organization began its acute transmutation into a platform for the alt-right. Since then, Spencer has been known to advocate for a “separate nation for white people,” among other charming, racist stances.

Spencer stated in a 2016 NPR interview last November:

“What I would ultimately want is this ideal of a safe space effectively for Europeans. This is a big empire that would accept all Europeans. It would be a place for Germans. It would be a place for Slavs. It would be a place for Celts. It would be a place for white Americans and so on.”

Furthermore, NPI’s own website states that the organization is “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.”

Nonprofit status allowed for NPI to collect tax-deductible donations from a growing number of supporters as Spencer’s public profile proceeded to rise over the last five years. Such funding allowed for Spencer and NPI to publish white nationalist propaganda, as well as attend conferences promoting their white nationalist agenda. At one such conference held in the same month as Spencer’s NPR interview mentioned above, the alt-right sock puppet riled the crowd with “HAIL TRUMP! HAIL OUR PEOPLE! HAIL VICTORY!” to which the audience responded with Nazi salutes.

Yet, somehow, the public is supposed to believe Spencer’s snake oil pitch that there is a place for Jews in the alt-right. Though James Baldwin’s essay, “Negroes Are Anti-Semitic Because They’re Anti-White,” suggests the author might very well agree with Spencer in a certain regard, that is a subject for another article at another time. Talk about strange bedfellows! Quickly, though, Baldwin writes:

“[The Jew] is singled out by Negroes not because he acts differently from other white men, but because he doesn’t. His major distinction is given him by that history of Christendom, which has so successfully victimized both Negroes and Jews. And he is playing in Harlem the role assigned him by Christians long ago: he is doing their dirty work.”

Perhaps, from Baldwin’s perspective, there is a place for Jews in the alt-right, but it is entirely clear, too, that that place will be a second-class place, and one designed to advance yet further the agenda of white nationalism.

With Spencer manning the helm of the National Policy Institute and the hate group on the rise under the shadow of President Trump’s enabling ignorance, NPI’s finances have grown more and more opaque, especially since 2012, when the organization stopped filing its federal tax returns.

As the L.A. Times reports:

“Such tax records for nonprofits, which are available to the public, generally must be filed each year. The forms show how much money an organization makes, how much it spends, how much it pays its officers and who sits on its board, plus other information intended to provide transparency and accountability. Failing to file for three years in a row results in an automatic loss in tax-exempt status.”

For several years, however, NPI was “misclassified” by the IRS as not having to file federal taxes. Meanwhile, the IRS is declining to comment on the matter, stating “federal law prohibits the IRS from commenting on a particular taxpayer or case.”

The IRS corrected its error last month. As of Monday, it also adjusted its records, stripping NPI’s tax-exempt status retroactively back to May 15 of last year—the filing deadline for the organization’s 2015 return.

Though Spencer’s claim that the IRS’s error is to blame for the group’s lack of filing taxes sounds reasonable, law professor at Louisiana State University and former IRS employee specializing in nonprofits, Philip T. Hackney, says the National Policy Institute has no excuse for failing to file.

“They should have known that they should have been filing. It’s very clear under the law that if you don’t file for three years, you lose your status.”

Senior Guidestar research fellow, Chuck McLean, agrees with Hackney, stating:

“Ignorance is no excuse.”

Guidestar tracks nonprofits and publishes their financial records for the public.

Furthermore, despite the Virginia Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs’ database listing the National Policy Institute as “not authorized to solicit in Virginia” as of February, Spencer opened an office in Alexandria, Virginia, where his organization is incorporated. Out of that office he has raised over $50,000 via fundraising online over the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017. NPI also begs for change via snail mail out of a post office box in Arlington, Va.

Spokesperson for the Virginia Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs, Elaine Lidholm, told the L.A. Times:

“They had sent in a registration form to us years ago, but it was incomplete and we requested additional information. We never heard back from them.”

After the L.A. Times inquired into NPI, the Virginia Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs nixed the organization from its database and struck up a review over the matter that remains ongoing as of Monday.

Countering the Virginia Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs, however, NPI’s as of yet unnamed bookkeeper assured Spencer the paperwork is “completed.”

IRS Exempt From Spencer’s BS

Lending further scrutiny to NPI’s nonprofit and federal income tax status are statements made by Spencer during “election-year activities,” some of which may have been a big no-no as far as the IRS is concerned, which stipulates that nonprofit organizations “cannot make partisan comments in official organization publications or at official functions of the organization.”

One such problematic statement was written in plain old black and white on the National Policy Institute’s website in September of last year, where Spencer wrote:

“I invite you to join us in the fight against Hillary Clinton, and the liberal agenda that’s haunted our country for generations…. I ask you to make a [sic] investment of $25, $75, $100, or however much you can spare.”

Another problematic example of Spencer crossing the political line with his nonprofit organization and tax-exempt status came just after the presidential elections, when the antifa punching bag told an NPI conference audience:

“We willed Donald Trump into office, made this dream into reality.”

Guidestar’s McLean said:

“I would say that the fundraising pitch on the website and the conference that they held where he made those comments, I think that those both definitely are infractions.”

Considering Spencer’s National Policy has now been retroactively stripped of its tax-exempt status, however, former IRS attorney and Louisiana State University law professor Hackney said:

“As a technical matter, they can’t have violated the provision, because they weren’t a charity anyway.”

How, exactly, Spencer plans to “figure it out,” remains to be seen.

H/T: L.A. Times / NPR / The Hill / Washington Examiner | Featured image by Chip Somodevilla via Getty News Images

Dylan Hock is a writer, educator, and activist. He serves as a volunteer board member of The James Jackson Museum of African American History.

ReverbPress Mobile Apps ReverbPress iOS App ReverbPress Android App ReverbPress App