H.R.918 / S.276 - Spotlight Act

Photo of Congress member Senator Jon Tester

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to require certain tax-exempt organizations to include on annual returns the names and addresses of substantial contributors, and for other purposes.

You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe that most non-profit organizations that engage in political activity should disclose their donors list to the IRS and to the public with the aim of ending the influence of so called "dark money." The current campaign finance system allows for these non-profits to make donations to political campaigns without having to disclose their donors' information.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You believe that non-profit organizations should not be forced to disclose their donors. The Supreme Court has already ruled that the disclosure of donors could have an impact on free speech. No individual or organization should be scared to make a donation to a particular political group because their name will be disclosed.
Introduced House Senate President Law

The Spotlight Act would reverse the Treasury Department’s decision that allows non-profit organizations that engage in political activity to avoid disclosing certain donor information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Spotlight Act also requires these organizations to disclose the names of donors to the public, not just the IRS.

The legislation was previously introduced on July 2018, after the Treasury Department, headed by Secretary Mnuchin, announced it would no longer require non-profit organizations engaged in political activity to disclose basic information about their donors.

Under current law, 501(c)(3) organizations must provide donor information to the IRS, but the Treasury Secretary has discretion over whether to require this information from other types of tax-exempt organizations.

The bill aims to eliminate this discretion and legally require 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), and 501(c)(6) organizations, better known as three other types of non-profit organizations, to provide the IRS with the names and basic information of donors who contribute more than $5,000.

Those who oppose the legislation argue that the bill could have unintended consequences and infringe on free speech by scaring individuals into not donating into a particular organization because of fear of persecution since his or her name will become public.

The issue has been heard by the Supreme Court, where it ruled that non-profits may not be forced to disclose their donors.

The legislation is endorsed by non-partisan campaign finance reform organizations End Citizens United (ECU), Common Cause, and Democracy 21.

“The IRS's decision to give mega-donors and Big Money special interests more secrecy with their political spending goes against what the majority of Americans want. Voters deserve to know who's behind the seemingly unlimited money that's trying to influence their vote and their government,” said End Citizens United Action Fund President Tiffany Muller. “ECU thanks Senators Tester and Wyden for their leadership, and Congress should pass this legislation immediately. It would shine a much-needed light on political nonprofits that spend hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle in the shadows.”

“This bill shines new light on dark money donors and keeps Russian oligarchs with friends at the NRA from being able to funnel money into our elections undetected,” said Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR). “Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin must be held accountable for using any means possible to wrest control of our democracy from the hands of American citizens.”


Rep. Price, David E. [D-NC-4].

Cosponsored by: 0 Rep / 9 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.


Sponsored by: Sen. Tester, Jon [D-MT].

Cosponsored by: 0 Rep / 1 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.

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