Assignment 3 -The White Nationalists Group Should not or Should be Given Tax-exempt Status
The White Nationalists Group Should not or should be given tax-exempt status
The tax regime in the United States of America contains clauses that have benefited the Nationalist organizations for some time now. This benefit gives them an allowance to not pay taxes and also permits the supporters to sign off cheques directly in the name of these organizations (Ehrenfreund, 2017). Because they do not pay taxes, these organizations have been able to raise millions of dollars and they are placed in the same category as charities, museums, community-based schools, cancer organizations, and other nonprofit organizations that work for the benefit of and for the welfare of the people (Ehrenfreund, 2017). This essay seeks to find out whether it is right for the so-called, "hate," groups to enjoy the same privilege of tax exemption as other charity organizations or whether the argument, the IRR erred in giving hate groups the same status as other charities, is correct.
Arguments in Support of the Position, "the IRR erred in giving hate groups the same status as other charities."
When people hear the word, ‘‘charitable,’’ the first thing that comes to mind is, "good," or doing good deeds that are for the benefit of the community. However, the nationalist groups which propagate hate against people of other races or people of other social groupings are not charitable groups. The supporters of these organizations are taking their money, which is a private donation, and funding another private endeavor, that of, ‘hate;’ which is disguised as a beneficial activity (Axelrod & Steve, 2020). Therefore the donations should not be tax-deductible since they do not support causes for the wider benefit of the members of the public, but they support," hate."
In the recent past, the IRS has exempt such organizations from payment of taxes especially if they seem to propagate the segregation of one community or one group of people against the others. This means that the IRS is aware of this problem and hence there shouldn't be a problem of revoking the tax-exempt status because these organizations could be doing more harm than good. The question on the minds of the people is, "If these people are currently getting involved in acts that seem to promote violence," surely there should be somebody or an institution that is checking on this. When people donate to these groups, they could think that they are supporting non-governmental organizations that mean well for the people, but in the real sense, they are offering financial support to organizations that are tearing communities apart and breaking homes because these groups encourage the superiority complex, and are a security threat because they could be supporting militia groups that wreak havoc on the people (Axelrod & Steve, 2020).
The White Nationalists' donations should not be tax exempted because they are misleading the people. This misinformation is often hidden under the guise that these institutions are educating the people (Amarante, 2018). For example, the racially biased organizations often have these distorted human evolution supported notions that seem to suggest the whites are superior to other races. These groups seem to support the idea that human beings have different hereditary characteristics that all point to one thing, the whites are better than the other races. Because these ideas have been taken over by events and discredited by the existing scientific evidence, one now wonders why these groups should be supported by tax-deductible benefits such as donations only for them to spread doctrinal information that seek to elevate one race over the other. Because they do not spread the truth, their mission for the education of the masses is deceptive and does not deserve recognition like other groups that support the eradication of diseases or promote real education.
One may argue that the government, by giving them the tax-exempt status, is acting as a public subsidy for the activities of the white supremacy organizations (Amarante, 2018). This public subsidy seems like some sort of endorsement for the activities of these groups. Because if they do not pay the requisite taxes, it means that these organizations have so much money that they can be used to propagate hate-related activities. It is not enough for the government to argue that the tax exemption status is because of the inclusivity of this rule, the actions that are carried out by these organizations need to be considered whether they are actions in support of the government's agenda or not. It means that the government has approved the activities of the white supremacist because, in the event of tax exemption, it means that the organizations do not have the burden of preparing the tax documents that involve the federal tax filing. It also means that the individuals encouraged to donate will feel even more willing to do so because they can exempt these donations from the personal tax liability they have.
Government approval through tax exemption should apply to the organizations that sometimes do provide services that the government is supposed to provide in the first place (Amarante, 2018). For example, organizations that are building homes for homeless people are doing a service that should be carried out by the government. Organizations that offer sponsorships for children from poor families to get university education are doing so to fill the gap because sometimes the government cannot and has not given education to all these children. These are the organizations that should be given tax-exempt status because the role they play hugely complements the role of the government. However, the same cannot be said of the nationalist that includes white supremacists. It is inconceivable that the government should help the hate groups raise more money and thus increase the impact of their activities yet these groups do not in any way assist the government to carry out its functions.
The IRS erred because these nationalist organizations are neither charitable organizations nor are they educational institutions. Unless evidence proves otherwise, they are not organizations that support minority poor communities or complement the efforts of the Federal government in times of an emergency. They are neither an educational group. These nationalist groups are disguised as educational organizations (Amarante, 2018). They may be organizing public lectures, seminars, and lecturers but there is a need to consider the following: Do the ideas they spread to be considered education? For example, if a racially biased group organizes forums and seminars to attempt to prove that whites are biologically superior to other races can that are regarded as education? If it is regarded as education, what is the end goal? How should the now, “educated,” people behave after getting this indoctrination? This leads to more questions than answers.
The idea for providing tax exemption status to the religious organizations is because they provide spiritual nourishment and churches for a long time in the United States were not allowed to directly get engaged in politics. However, nationalist organizations are not religious organizations. The nationalist organizations for example the Klux Klux Klan may exhibit a zeal or zest that is mostly associated with religious organizations, but they cannot be classified as religious organizations.
Arguments in Support of the Position, “The IRR did not err and hate groups deserve tax-exempt recognition."
There is a certain level of agreement towards the position that organizations that are found to be promoting hate or inflammatory statements that could ignite war or violence should be denied the tax-exempt status. However, the incidents of inflammation are often isolated and the IRS if it is given the mandate of supervising and classifying the groups with tax-exempt status, it will mean that the Internal Revenue Service has lost its purpose (Weinberger, 2019). The purpose of the IRS is collection of taxes and not classifying groups therefore it did not err. The Internal Revenue Service agencies do not have the mandate; leave alone the competent personnel to mud into the politically inclined and philosophical issues of classifying organizations (Weinberger, 2019). It is therefore important to leave the tax exemption status of these organizations to remain as it is.
Uncomfortable as it seems, some statements that people find offensive or ideas that some groups of people may find offensive are protected by the constitution. It is part of free speech and freedom of speech is an inalienable right of all Americans (Fisch, 2002). The United States Constitution has given broad views and protections to the people’s freedom to say what they want to and to express themselves freely. In many instances, the idea of," hate speech, "if it is argued in the court of law in the United States, will receives weak support because the constitution while giving people the freedom of speech, does not envision a point of hate speech and then put clamps or caveats that seek to prevent the people's freedom of speech that was awarded in the first instance. Because of this fundamental freedom of speech, people should not be discriminated against on the basis that they are expressing viewpoints and ideas that are fundamentally and emotionally different from their ideas (Fisch, 2002). “Hate," organizations, therefore, argue that the mere tag of, “hate,” on these groups is unfair and it goes against the spirit of the constitution of the United States. What these people are expressing through their organizations and what these groups are educating the masses through their ideas is not necessarily bad but just different from what other groups or the mainstream social discourse think of them.
What some people think of as propaganda may mean education; hence some of the nationalist groups such as the New Century Foundation do state that their goal is education, albeit it is education with a particular viewpoint that is not agreed upon by a majority of the people. For example, when these nationalist groups state that they are providing heritage information and identity knowledge to people of European descent, this does not mean that they are demeaning, or spreading hate against other races. Education that seeks to uplift or promote the interests of the white race does not offend the other racial groups therefore it should still be classified as non-tax-exempt organizations.
How these groups should be classified and the statuses they should have
Unless a stronger legal mandate is offered to the IRS to check and determine the groups that are inciting people to violence then the classification should remain as it is. The agents need to be equipped with the training and the resources to do this because if it does not happen, there could be a blanket condemnation of all the nationalist organizations as hate groups yet there could be organizations, that, although they promote ideas that are different from the ideals of other people, they do help or further a cause that could be similar to the widely accepted charitable organizations such as those that provide help for the homeless and education for the poor children(Weinberger, 2019).
There could be a need to strip off, “educational institution,” name tag that some of these nationalist and white supremacy organizations have. This is because some of them hide under this classification yet they are not educating the people and they are only spreading hate ideals (Amarante, 2018). However, when the nationalist organizations are no longer regarded as, ‘’ educational,” this should not affect organizations that research and promote social justice and knowledge dissemination in a non-partisan manner. An example of this organization is the Brookings Institution.
It may take longer, but there is a need to expand the definition of the word hate, and perhaps a referendum, if it reaches a certain point, can be made to determine what can constitute a set of limitations to the freedom of speech. However, due to the partisan nature of the United States politics and the fact that there are so many ideological differences between the Democrats and Republicans, a referendum might not be possible to classify hate as a forbidden form of speech that is present in the United States Constitution. Until this is done, the nationalist groups can always wiggle around the grey areas in the constitution of the country and state that in fact, they are not 'hate' groups. In the absence of strong evidence to link these groups to racially profiled hate and violence, they can claim innocence from being labeled as groups that cause division.
Defense of the position
These arguments are defensible because they represented ideas from both sides of the coin, whether the nationalist organizations should be classified as nationalist organizations or not. The problems of the change of this status from tax-exempt to non-tax exempt range from difficulties in classification of what is education and what is not, the mandate that the IRS has in the classification of organizations and why hate, could primarily be a protected part of the freedom of speech clauses in the First Amendment.
Amarante, E. (2018). Why Don’t Some White Supremacist Groups Pay Taxes? https://scholarlycommons.law.emory.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1011&context=elj-online
Axelrod, J., & Steve, K. (2020). Alleged hate groups get tax breaks as registered charities. Www.cbsnews.com. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/alleged-hate-groups-tax-breaks-registered-charities/
Ehrenfreund, M. (2017). Why the IRS puts white-nationalist groups in the same category as orchestras, planetariums, and zoos. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/05/10/why-the-irs-puts-white-nationalist-groups-in-the-same-category-as-orchestras-planetariums-and-zoos/
Fisch, W. B. (2002). Hate Speech in the Constitutional Law of the United States. The American Journal of Comparative Law, 50, 463. https://doi.org/10.2307/840886
Weinberger, R. (2019, September 25). Balancing Hate, The First Amendment, And Tax-Exempt Status. Tax Policy Center. https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxvox/balancing-hate-first-amendment-and-tax-exempt-status