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TikTokers are trying to report the backers of Project 2025 to the IRS

They are trying to report it for engaging in political activity by promoting the uber-conservative policy plan.


Marlon Ettinger


A TikToker went viral on Monday for a video where she claimed that the Heritage Foundation’s support for former President Donald Trump and promotion of a policy program called the 2025 Presidential Transition Project, or Project 2025, could jeopardize its non-profit status. And she urged people to report the think tank to the IRS.

“Stop scrolling if you want to help take down the Heritage Foundation,” read the caption on Morgan Branning’s TikTok on Monday.

In the video, Branning explained that 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations like the Heritage Foundation are prohibited from endorsing or supporting political candidates—including by “writing and publishing a political manifesto during a presidential campaign.”

The Heritage Foundation is indeed a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization, which is categorized as a “Research Institute” for the benefit of society and the public.

The conservative think tank took in $106 million in 2022 and spent $93.7 million the same year.

Kevin Roberts, the president of the Heritage Foundation, appeared on the conservative broadcast Real America’s Voice last week endorsing the Project 2025 program and celebrating the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling for official acts by the president.

“Despite all this nonsense from the left, we are going to win. We’re in the process of taking this country back,” Roberts, who’s tried to “institutionalize Trumpism” in his role as head of the Heritage Foundation, said.

“Our side is winning,” Roberts went on. “We are in the process of the Second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless, if the left allows it to be.”

Comments like those and a recent messaging push by the Democratic Party have thrust the plan into the public spotlight, leading Trump to disavow it last Friday, saying he had “no idea who is behind it.”

“I disagree with some of the things they’re saying and some of the things they’re saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal. Anything they do, I wish them luck, but I have nothing to do with them,” Trump said in a post on Truth Social.

However, Trump has deep ties to the Heritage Foundation. The group has written glowingly of his Supreme Court appointees and said they helped “shape” his list of nominees. 

According to the IRS, 501(c)(3) organizations can’t “publish or distribute printed statements or make oral statements on behalf of, or in opposition to, a candidate for public office. Consequently, a written or oral endorsement of a candidate is strictly forbidden.” The Heritage Foundation and Project 2025 includes many of Trump’s former White House advisers, but the organization is careful not to explicitly endorse any candidates.

But as Project 2025 has come more prominently into the public eye in recent weeks, Democratic activists have chosen to make the organization a target—and push to cancel the organization’s exempt status.

Branning pointed to an IRS tax-exempt complaint form called Form 13909, which allows people to report organizations they think are in breach of the law, and provided an example complaint for her followers to fill it in with.

“The Heritage Foundation has been widely revealed as the architects of Project 2025, Presidential Transition Project, and has shown very outspoken support for presidential candidate Donald J. Trump,” Branning wrote in her complaint, pointing to Roberts’ comments.

“THIS IS POLITICAL and in violation of the rules of the Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3), which prohibits tax-exempt organizations from engaging in political activity as a whole, both directly and indirectly, whether they are showing support or opposition. The Heritage Foundation holds a tax-exempt status per 501(c)(3) and therefore has engaged in numerous violations of such code. Action MUST be taken, and these standards upheld,” she finished.

Branning’s TikTok racked up 650,000 views and 140,000 likes.

The Heritage Foundation didn’t immediately respond to questions about whether they believe Roberts’ comments could call into question their tax-exempt status, or if their employees had behaved appropriately when it came to respecting rules on endorsements.

A community poster on Daily Kos also suggested calling the Heritage Foundation’s tax-exempt status into question by reporting it to the IRS last Sunday, but not everybody was optimistic that the effort would be successful.

“Highly unlikely. My org has been paying close attention to Heritage lately. All of their verbiage is carefully crafted to sound nonpartisan-enough to get them off the hook,” posted one commenter. “Also at this point IRS is highly reluctant to pursue 501c3 violations, though perhaps in a 2nd Biden term they can be persuaded (a few lawsuits might help) to take gloves off and put hands on.”

Branning didn’t immediately respond to questions about how she got the idea to make the TikTok or how many people she heard followed through.

“With as crazy as shit’s getting, everything I can do,” she said in the video. “We need movement. We’re essentially in the 11th hour, but any movement is good movement. We gotta go, whatever we can do … strength in numbers y’all.”

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