Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) on Tuesday questioned why tea party groups were seeking to be subsidized by the government.
At a House hearing on IRS misconduct, McDermott acknowledged the federal tax agency had inappropriately used political criteria to locate nonprofit applications that needed extra review.
“But as I listen to this discussion, I’d like to remind everyone what we are talking about here,” he continued. “None of your organizations were kept from organizing or silenced. We are talking about whether or not the American taxpayers would subsidize your work. We are talking about a tax break.”
The tea party groups in question were applying to become tax exempt 501(c)4 groups, also known as social welfare organizations. McDermott noted the purpose of such groups was to advance the common good and general welfare a community. Political organizations, on the other hand, are categorized under section 527 of the federal tax code.
“Each of your groups is highly political,” the congressman said. “From opposing the President’s healthcare reform, to abortion restrictions, to gay marriage, you’re all entrenched in some of the most controversial political issues in this country – and with your applications you are asking the American public to pay for that work. Many of you host and endorse candidates. The line between permitted political activity and non-permitted political activity can be very fine, and it’s important that tax payers know which side you fall on.”
McDermott’s remarks angered Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who accused the congressman of blaming the victim.
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