The Internal Revenue Service has revoked the tax-exempt status of the Institute on the Constitution, an organization founded by Anne Arundel County Councilman Michael Peroutka to teach his ideas on government.
The Millersville Republican created the institute in 2004 — the same year as Peroutka's Constitution Party campaign for president — to spread his interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, which he bases on his Christian faith.
The IRS revoked the Pasadena organization's exemption status in May after it failed to provide yearly finance forms detailing charitable contributions, donations and other financial information. The Elizabeth Streb Peroutka Foundation, which Peroutka co-founded with his brother, has provided the government with the yearly records. The exemption status revocation was first reported by The Arundel Patriot, a website that advocates for progressive political ideas and causes.
Jake MacAulay, executive director of The Institute on the Constitution, said Wednesday he was not aware of the revoked exemption.
Peroutka did not respond to requests for comment.
Despite the IRS action, the Institute on the Constitution website, www.theamericanview.com, describes donations as tax deductible as recently as Tuesday night.
"There are several ways that you can financially partner with IOTC," according to the institute's donation page. "All donations are tax-deductible."
The IRS automatically revoked the institute's tax-exempt status and posted its action Aug. 16. An organization that loses its exemption status must pay taxes, and donors to the institute cannot use donations made after Aug. 16 as a tax deduction.
An organization can apply to have its status reinstated. The IRS can determine the organization's tax-exempt status through four different methods, and reinstatements can be retroactive.
To achieve this, the Institute needs to provide a reason for failing to file returns in at least one of the three years and file the missing returns.
If the IRS issues a "post-mark date reinstatement," its exempt status would be good based on the post-marked date of the reinstatement application. This would mean donations during the non-exempt status would not be tax deductible.
The Institute on the Constitution also is not listed on the Maryland Charities Database, required under Maryland law.
The institute offers a number of civics courses. A class called "The U.S. Constitution Course" is described on the website this way:
"In their lecture presentations, Michael Anthony Peroutka and Pastor David Whitney establish the premises for properly understanding the Constitution, by exposing students to the Biblical Worldview of America's Founders and the writings that influenced them, as well as to their deliberate design of the federal government."
Peroutka uses the Institute on the Constitution as a platform to discuss his political philosophies. Recently he generated some controversy after he posted about "real" versus "fake" racism. Peroutka argued that people calling for the removal of Confederate statues were missing the "real" racism issue of abortion — specifically, he alleged, the targeting of black women by Planned Parenthood. Peroutka also said Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood, also participated in the eugenics movement and gave a speech to the Ku Klux Klan.
Planned Parenthood has denounced those aspects of Sanger's past.
A group of residents admonished Peroutka for those comments at Monday's County Council meeting. That same group also has been calling on Peroutka to resign because of his form aer involvement with The League of the South, a southern secessionist group. The councilman recently denounced racist comments made by Michael Hill, founder and president of The League of the South.
Peroutka is seeking a second term. He has been endorsed by County Executive Steve Schuh.