So, this isn’t the same or even as exciting as Richard Spencer getting punched in the face, but we should all feel some sort of satisfaction that this dude is getting something else he deserves. The IRS has stripped Spencer’s nonprofit organization of its tax-exempt status because it failed to file financial returns for three years.
The Washington Post reports that Spencer’s Virginia think tank, the National Policy Institute, “had been allowed to operate in financial secrecy since 2013,” but on Tuesday, Spencer said he was told by the IRS that the organization had lost its tax-exempt status for failing to submit required records.
Spencer reportedly blamed the mistake on a former bookkeeper, and according to the Post, he has already begun the reapplication process, which could take months.
The institute, which promotes a form of American apartheid, has functioned as a public charity that relies heavily on contributions. The IRS almost always requires such organizations to file returns that detail where the money comes from and how it is spent. For reasons the agency still hasn’t explained, Spencer’s group had been categorized among those not obligated to file any returns whatsoever, according to an examination by the Post.
Tax experts asked to review the case by The Post last year said they believed the classification was erroneous and should be fixed — and, when it was, they predicted that the institute would lose its tax exemption.
Despite the IRS’s miscue, the experts added, Spencer still had a duty to provide the documents, known as Form 990s. The error allowed the institute to avoid public scrutiny at a time when the alt-right—the term Spencer coined to describe a movement seeking a whites-only state—had garnered international attention.
According to the Post, when Spencer was first asked about the tax issue, he said he didn’t even know that the institute hadn’t been filing returns but that he had fired his accounting firm over the matter.
“The people I delegated this task to really screwed up. I’ll take responsibility,” Spencer said. “We solved the issue, but now we’re facing the consequences.”
Spencer said that NPI will temporarily halt its fundraising “until we get all of our i’s dotted and our t’s crossed,” a task that he predicted would take anywhere from one to six months.
Spencer does not believe that the revocation is politically motivated, according to the Post, and said that he would only question the IRS’ motivation if his reapplication for tax-exempt status is rejected.
“I’m obviously going to respect their decision because mistakes were made on our end,” Spencer said.
According to the Post, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors Spencer and other white supremacists, were not aware until they were informed by WaPo that the IRS had not demanded that Spencer’s organization file returns, and they immediately objected.
SPLC spokeswoman Heidi Beirich told the Post: “If they’re going to claim tax breaks for their donors, we should know where the money is coming from and what the money is being spent on. It’s important for the IRS to hold them to the same standard they hold the rest of us.”
Read more at the Washington Post.