by Jack Minor
A complaint to the IRS claims the Colorado Education Association and other state affiliates of the National Education Association have used their tax exempt status to assist Democrat political campaigns.
In March, the Landmark Legal Foundation filed a formal complaint with the IRS seeking a full investigation into the NEA’s failure to pay taxes on political expenditures.
The complaint states that since 1994, the organization has reported zero dollars on tax returns. In 2008, for the first time, the NEA reported making political expenditures on its tax return.
The complaint goes on to say that the NEA acknowledged spending $7,714,284 in “political expenditures” on its 2008 return. The NEA described the expenditures as three types of activities, including “mobilizing members to vote for endorsed federal and non-federal candidates.” They did not classify any of these expenditures as “exempt function activities.”
The complaint alleges the NEA should have paid taxes on these expenditures. LLF cites the tax code which states that any attempt to influence the election of any candidate for office is subject to taxation.
The LLF has filed extensive complaints with the IRS regarding NEA expenditures. In 2005, as a result of these complaints the IRS investigated the organization. The complaint states that “In light of being subjected to multiple examinations, the NEA should be particularly cognizant of the myriad of taxation issues arising out of its behavior.”
For the past several years the LLF has also investigated state education agencies. LLF states that, as a result of its investigations, evidence has been uncovered that the NEA has run coordinated campaigns with the Democratic National Committee without reporting the expenditures to its members or the IRS.
Over the years, the organization has filed complaints with the IRS against the NEA and teachers’ unions in several states including Colorado, California, Wisconsin and Florida.
As a result of the organization’s actions several organizations have “discovered” unreported political expenditures. In 2006 the Wisconsin Education Association realized it needed to pay $171,000 in federal taxes after LLF asked if the organization had paid taxes on $430,000 it gave to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. Stan Johnson, the WEAC’s president, admitted the organization should have paid taxes on the expenditures.
Similar complaints forced the California Teachers’ Union to offer refunds to nonunion, fee-paying teachers. The refunds were from a $60 per teacher assessment used to fund a $50 million campaign to defeat ballot initiatives in the state.
The Colorado Education Association and the Poudre, Colorado Education Association have also been the subject of complaints. In 2008, the LLF filed a complaint stating the CEA and PEA employed union staff members, including PEA’s president and office manager, for several weeks to work full time as de facto campaign managers for the 2004 candidacy of Democrat Bob Bacon for the state senate.
On April 11, the LLF filed a similar complaint with the IRS regarding the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The complaint alleges AFSCME listed over $13 million in political expenditures similar to the NEA on their 2008 return and likewise did not list it as taxable income.