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Proposed SUN Act Requires Increased Nonprofit Transparency

December 9, 2014 Posted by Jessica Shofler in Congressional ax, Donations, News, Nonprofits

Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) recently introduced the Sunlight for Unaccountable Nonprofits Act (The SUN Act), which would require that already public information about nonprofits (specifically, that included on their annual information returns) be made available to the public at no charge in an open, searchable format. The Act specifically would require the information provided be “easy to find, access, reuse, and download in bulk.”

The SUN Act would also require disclosure of large donors (those who give $5,000 or more) to exempt organizations engaging in political activities. This would include an organization that indicates on its exemption application that it intends to spend money attempting to influence the selection, nomination, election or appointment of a person to a public office or that states on an information return that it has participated in, or intervened in, a political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.

Opponents of the SUN Act are concerned that such a disclosure requirement would chill free speech. But supporters of the Act point to the growing trend of “dark money” support of political campaigns, primarily meaning money from tax-exempt social welfare organizations that are not required to identify their donors.

The Act has been assigned to a congressional committee, which will consider it before possibly sending it on to the House or Senate as a whole.

Do you think the Act goes too far or not far enough with respect to nonprofit transparency?