As a non-profit organization, HSUS’s attempts to influence public policy, has led six Congressmen to question HSUS’s tax-exemption 501 (c)(3) status.
In a letter to the Office of Inspector General, Eric Thorson, Congressmen Blaine Luetkemeyer, Vicky Hartzler, Jo Ann Emerson, Sam Graves, Billy Long and Don Young requested an investigation into the tax-exempt status of HSUS. Congressman Luetkemeyer has also notified IRS Commissioner Shulman, of HSUS’s potential violation of the tax exempt laws. The letter goes on to state “The 501 (c)(3) definition of a qualifying tax-exempt organization states that it “must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in Section 501(c)(3), and . . . it may not be an active organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities…” The letter further expands reasons for the investigation into the tax-exempt status, “HSUS continually seeks donations through advertisements that claim the money will be used to help neglected or abused animals. The commercials deliberately lead the public to believe direct aid to animals is the main activity of the organization, as does the misleading similarity between the name of HSUS and the hundreds of local hands-on animal sheltering humane societies across America, which are wholly unaffiliated with HSUS and receive zero funding from it.” In contrast, HSUS’s own Financial Operations Report for 2009 shows that it spent $26,264,166 for “Advocacy and public policy,” which is over 28% of its total non-overhead expenditures. Indeed, by its own admission, HSUS spends more than twice as much on “Advocacy and public policy” than any other category of expenses. This investigation will help uncover the truth about what people believe is happening with their money when they donate to the Humane Society of the United States.