Report: IRS-Targeted Groups Tested Limits

The New York Times reports that many of the groups applying for tax-exempt status as "social welfare" organizations were involved in political activities, and that some of the IRS' seemingly strange questions were designed to figure out whether election politics or social welfare was their primary purpose.

Maybe there was a reason the Internal Revenue Service was targeting certain groups? The New York Times reports that many of the groups applying for tax-exempt status as "social welfare" organizations were involved in political activities, and that some of the IRS' seemingly strange questions were designed to figure out whether election politics or social welfare was their primary purpose. That distinction is hard to draw, according to a former Justice Department tax lawyer quoted by the Times, and can involve questions about the organization's internet activity, whether its leaders plan to run for office, and the status of its volunteers.

One former IRS official went so far as to call the inspector general “careless in his terminology” when he said the IRS inappropriately targeted these groups. Meanwhile, Congressional staffers will spend the recess poring over IRS documents as lawmakers try to find more agents at fault.

NYT:

"When CVFC, a conservative veterans’ group in California, applied for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service, its biggest expenditure that year was several thousand dollars in radio ads backing a Republican candidate for Congress.

The Wetumpka Tea Party, from Alabama, sponsored training for a get-out-the-vote initiative dedicated to the “defeat of President Barack Obama” while the I.R.S. was weighing its application.

And the head of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, whose application languished with the I.R.S. for more than two years, sent out e-mails to members about Mitt Romney campaign events and organized members to distribute Mr. Romney’s presidential campaign literature.

Representatives of these organizations have cried foul in recent weeks about their treatment by the I.R.S., saying they were among dozens of conservative groups unfairly targeted by the agency, harassed with inappropriate questionnaires and put off for months or years as the agency delayed decisions on their applications.

But a close examination of these groups and others reveals an array of election activities that tax experts and former I.R.S. officials said would provide a legitimate basis for flagging them for closer review."

Also, in 2012 a Texas judge ruled that a tea party group was a PAC, and not a nonprofit as it claimed:

"A Travis County district court judge ruled this week that a Houston-based tea party group is not a nonprofit corporation as it claims, but an unregistered political action committee that illegally aided the Republican Party through its poll-watching efforts during the 2010 elections.

The summary judgment by Judge John Dietz upheld several Texas campaign finance laws that had been challenged on constitutional grounds by King Street Patriots, a tea party organization known for its "True the Vote" effort to uncover voter fraud.

The ruling grew out of a 2010 lawsuit filed by the Texas Democratic Party against the King Street Patriots. The Democrats charged that the organization made unlawful political contributions to the Texas Republican Party and various Republican candidates by training poll watchers in cooperation with the party and its candidates and by holding candidate forums only for GOP candidates."

So the IRS was just doing its job. The Republicans have to have their faux scandal though, it makes them appear busy...Lord knows they aren't doing anything else.

About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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