April 16, 2014

I just love the way conservatives want to have their cake and eat it too. Ron Paul's organization, Campaign for Liberty, is being fined by the IRS because they insist on filing incomplete reports, but if you listen to him whine on Fox News, you'd think he was being persecuted, and horribly so.

When organizations file for tax-exempt status, they enter into a contract of sorts. That contract says they agree to file a form 990 each year, and if they receive donations in excess of $5,000, they will disclose the name of the donor. This part of their filing is not public, but they are required to disclose it.

In recent years, there has been a deliberate and concerted effort to do an end run around those filings by simply adding a statement at the end of their filing claiming they are not required to disclose large donors.

In fact, they are required to make those disclosures, and for good reason. Think about the havoc money launderers and foreign entities could wreak if they were able to use nonprofit organizations to move money into the United States without any tax consequence.

Beyond that, nonprofit organizations agree to a tradeoff when they decide they want the exemption from normal income taxes. Because American taxpayers are footing the bill for their exemption, they must be accountable for the contributions they receive, and they are required to report those contributions to the IRS in exchange for maintaining that exemption.

So yes, Ron Paul's organization is being fined for failure to file a complete form 990, which they are now using to fundraise and complain on Fox News. But they do have a choice. If they don't want to disclose large donors, all they have to do is give up their tax exemption and operate as a for-profit organization instead.

That's what liberty is all about, Ron Paul. Making the decisions that fit your specific goals within the constraints of the law, not making your own laws.

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