Charities fight anti-terrorism rules

A group of U.S. charities is asking the U.S. Treasury Department to withdraw its guidelines aimed at preventing nonprofits from inadvertently financing terrorist activities.

The coalition, comprised of more than 40 nonprofits and advocacy groups, says the guidelines, while voluntary, divert scarce resources from program and service delivery without effectively curbing funding of terrorists.

The Treasury Guidelines Working Group, led by the Council on Foundations, wrote a letter to the Treasury asking that it withdraw its guidelines and replace them with those proposed in the group’s Principles of International Charity.

The Treasury’s guidelines, revised for the third time, are voluntary, but the working group says the IRS has questioned nonprofits about their compliance, sometimes in the context of a group’s request for tax-exempt status.

The group says existing laws are sufficient to prevent misuse of charitable assets, while the new guidelines require data collection and reporting that are time-consuming but would do little to curtail abuses.

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