Legion efforts influenced IRS DD-214 revision

American Legion efforts recently were successful in getting the Internal Revenue Service to revise section 501(c)19 of the Internal Revenue Code requiring Legion posts to keep records on file of its members’ DD-214s – the separation document given by the military to prove honorable service.

The IRS had been fining Legion posts up to $1,000 per day for not keeping records of veterans’ DD-214s or other valid documentation. The Legion felt it was being wrongly targeted, resulting in the passing of three resolutions during its 2013 National Convention in Houston last summer that called upon Congress to look into the IRS’ field investigations into Legion posts, while lawmakers wrote letters to the IRS asking why inspectors were asking posts to provide discharge papers or service records during reviews of their tax-exempt statuses.

Earlier this month, Legion staff and legal representation met with four IRS officials – the only veterans service organization (VSO) to do so – during which time the Legion asked that the IRS agree to change its internal regulations and guidance to comply with the above three resolutions. The Legion explained that while it preferred to fix this issue administratively, rather than legislatively, both options are available to the organization.

The IRS complied. Effective immediately, DD-214s are only required if an agent "possesses information that contradicts documentary information provided (by the veterans service organization) or if the organization fails to satisfy a reasonable request..." If an agent requires proof of membership eligibility, he or she will first request four sets of documents before requesting DD-214s or other discharge documents.

The American Legion also requested that the IRS create a new position within the agency – an ombudsman serving as a resource for VSOs – and agree to appoint a VSO liaison in each district that will agree to attend Legion department conventions to provide training and personal assistance to any department that needs it. Types of assistance can include Form 990 completion, initial requests for nonprofit status, compliance measures, and any other IRS compliance or relationship matter with which posts or departments may need assistance.

Read the revised IRS guidelines here.




  1. I am a paid up for life member, saying that every meeting there are very heated arguments in our monthly meeting about what constitutes an eligible veteran to join. Where can I find out exactly what a new prospect has to have and what are the other sources of documentation is also accepted.
  2. Good writing - I learned a lot from the facts ! Does someone know if my assistant might get ahold of a template 2013 IRS 990 document to fill out ?
  3. I don't mind showing a DD 214 when joining nor when I transfer from post to post. I do NOT want anybody retaining a full copy unless I can redact certain information from it. There is waaaaaay to much information in a DD 214 to have it in the hands of others. I work in computer security and I can insure you that this type of information would be a "treasure trove" for hackers and people wanting to steal your identity. When I retired I was told to register a copy of my DD 214 as an official document at the court house so I could easily get a copy of it. They now state they will no longer do that since its too much information at risk. If anybody wants to challenge my service I would be glad to show it; however, if somebody is going to retain a copy of it to prove service I will only do it if I cam redact certain pieces of information. I'm a lifetime member of the DAV, a member of the Legion and a member of the VVA. I freely gave copies back then but not now--its too risky. I recently got contacted by the VVA about providing a copy of my DD 214. As much as I hate to do it I'm going to decline giving them a copy of my full DD 214. If I can redact, yes; otherwise, no. If that means I must resign from the VVA, the DAV,and Legion that's exactly what I'll do. I should be able to insure the organization requesting the DD214 only has access to the minimum required to prove membership. Until that happens I guess I'll have to go it alone.
  4. While I enjoy reading the conspiracy theories, I must disagree with most of them and this requirement is not a slight on veterans. If our great organization is based upon eligible veterans (active, separated or retired) as a non-profit, membership based organization, then why shouldn't we and the government require and maintain one of the most important documents as proof of membership. If a member is withholding this document or a post not maintaining it properly, I must question their loyalty to the org or their personal integrity. Furthermore, I would investigate the member's reluctance to furnish the document, much like the IRS would investigate the reasons for a post not meeting their obligation. Regardless of what the IRS enforces in other 501Cs, we are an organization of military members and held to a higher standard. We set the example, not a church or any other org, as was mentioned in another posting. As active, separated and retired veterans, I truly believe we are held to a higher standard and should act accordingly. Mr. Clements has a great point. Show documents (or a DD-214) when you join, then never again. However, it is 2013...why can' a post forward it to headquarters electronically (scanners and email) for permanent storage in a member's file? This way we comply with the law, and more importantly, make sure we have honest and eligible members among our ranks (might be costly, but worth it). Furthermore, this negates ever having to show it or any other documents, when transferring to another post. A veteran's status could never be questioned and the membership are verifiably all vets. Why is this important? I have lost track of how many people I have met who claim to be ex-military of whom I quickly discover are lying with a few pointed questions when I suspect deception. I am sure most true veterans reading this can replicate my experiences. If the Legion can't be sure we have actual vets, our credibility is ruined. I am proud the Legion decided to meet with the IRS so that veterans may furnish other, equally powerful documents. Although the crux of my thoughts remain the same. If you are a veteran, you should be proud to furnish the required documents and the organization should be proud to maintain and furnish them when needed. As a young 2Lt, I was taught a lesson from a crusty ol' SMSgt..."keep every important piece of paper the AF gives you." I am sure most of us have learned the same lesson during our time of service. All veterans should have the required documents in their important files...if not, they should be able to get them with some perservearance and research. This discussion is not political or otherwise, it boils down to are we sure all are members are truly deserving to be in our wonderful organization. Thank you for letting me post my thoughts.
  5. This is ridiculous. The DD-214 request is really ridiculous. No other 501 c3 groups need to show something that personal. No church does either, nor the Veteran's "Peace" groups. What possible crime could the Legions be committing if they didn't collect it, giving drinks and the money from them to vets who needed it? This while GE pays almost no taxes and lies each year on its income taxes with no penalty? They gonna audit the homeless next and do a EFT-POS on donations at church, too, before you take communion? This is an insult to every American vet ever.
  6. Any Legion officer that is allowing non-veteran posers and wannabees to join should be removed from office and the posers should be purged. Then we would not have a problem with the IRS in the first place.
  7. No organization detests and expunge Posers more than Veteran's Organizations like the American Legion, VFW, etc. Veteran Orgs do NOT need a bureaucrat from Washington to come check up on those who were willing to fight and die for this country. Besides, how does one, or even a couple, of imposters invalidate an entire organization's tax exempt status? This was targeting by the IRS, just like the targeting of the conservative TEA Party.
  8. The abuse of power must stop. Like us, they too took oath to support and defend the Constitution. Our leaders (starting at the top) need to comply/enforce the Constitution, start enforcing existing laws and stop targeting their political enemies and groups or people who question their actions.
  9. All new members of the Legion should have to show their DD-214 when they first apply. They should not have to show it to transfer between post once they are verified.
  10. Pat, every legion post is responsible for all of their members validity! to rely or ask another post to do this is simply not right. Jake
  11. wrong thinking,I had a sal member try to trasfer back in october I asked for his dads dd-214 and i still have not gotten it.
  12. How did he get membership in the first place? He would have had to prove eligibility, if his dad is living a retired ID card is all that is needed, how does a person join if their eligible member has died and the house burnt down? Just curious.
  13. I am pleased that the IRS is doing its job in monitoring all tax exempt organizations. It is very reasonable to require the Posts to keep their records current. It was no burden for me to submit a copy of my DD214 and all this is a small price to pay to help rid our country of phony tax exempt organizations. American Legion members should proud to comply.
  14. You people don't get it do you? Obama and his thugs want the names of those who are members. Their excuse is to cut down on non-members. It's another Obama con game.
  15. I don't see the IRS monitoring Veterans For Peace, also a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization, as closely.
  16. I agree. There are way too many wannabees about who may want to masquerade as a member of the American Legion.
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