New regulations adopted by the attorney general of New York have broad implications for 501(c)(4)s and the contributors who support them. The new regulations will immediately require greater public disclosure including donor information.
While the controversy surrounding actions the IRS took with respect to applicants seeking 501(c)(4) status continues to unfold, an announcement made last week by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman may have broader implications for such organizations and their supporters. 501(c)(4) organizations are now required to report the percentage of their expenditures that go to federal, state and local electioneering. Groups that spend at least $10,000 to influence state and local elections in New York will also be required to file itemized schedules of expenses and contributions, including donor information. Those disclosures will be available to the public on the Attorney General’s NY Open Government website. “When people spend money to try to influence our elections, the public needs to know the source of that money, and how it is being spent. The regulations... ensure that New York nonprofits are not used to subvert that basic principle,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. He added, “Simply put, transparency reduces the likelihood of corruption.”
The attorney general’s office has jurisdiction over nonprofit activity in New York, and any entity that raises money in New York is required to register with the state. The disclosure requirements took effect on June 5, 2013, the date of the attorney general’s announcement.