Foundation Watch

As Surfrider Foundation Heads to Capitol Hill, CRC Calls on IRS to Investigate Group’s Tax-Exempt Status

Amid mounting evidence that the Surfrider Foundation operates as a full-time campaign machine, the Capital Research Center today re-issued its call for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate the nonprofit’s tax-exempt status. Representatives from the Surfrider Foundation—which touts hundreds of campaign victories, yet reports minuscule spending on its lobbying and campaign work—is in Washington, D.C. this week to lobby members of Congress and demonstrate in front of the Department of the Interior.

“Surfrider Foundation appears to spend significant time and resources engaging in politics and lobbying federal, state, and local lawmakers—all while enjoying a 501(c)(3) tax shield,” said Dr. Steven Allen, Vice President and Chief Investigative Officer of the Capital Research Center. “Out of respect to taxpayers, the Capital Research Center has asked the IRS to review Surfrider Foundation’s standing as a 501(c)(3). There must be accountability and quality control for organizations that enjoy this tax-friendly designation.

“Americans are sick and tired of special interests taking advantage. If Surfrider wants to continue as a political powerhouse, driving campaigns from Boston to California, New York to Seattle and Coral Gables to Chicago, it needs to give up its 501(c)(3) status.”

The IRS places strict limitations on tax-exempt organizations’ political, direct action lobbying and campaign activities. But enforcement depends on 501(c)(3) organizations diligently, honestly and accurately accounting for the time and resources they direct to such activities. As Capital Research Center documented in February, IRS filings from the past few years suggest Surfrider Foundation may be underreporting or misreporting its spending on politics and lobbying.

The Capital Research Center filed an official complaint with the IRS in March, calling on the federal government to investigate Surfrider’s 501(c)(3) compliance.

Note: To interview Dr. Steven J. Allen, please contact Kristen Eastlick, (202) 464-2052 or [email protected].