Oh, and it has.
In short order we have the Benghazi hearings, the IRS fiasco, and the search of the Associated Press phone records.
I am covering Benghazi in another post and will do the same with the Associated Press phone records seizure so this post will deal with only the IRS fiasco.
First off, let me acknowledge that I detest the IRS; having tangled with them on numerous times in the past I can honestly say that they are rotten to the core and I have no problem seeing them as “Gestapo” like in their tactics.
Let me also add that my sister and a group of parents who had a small autism awareness organization just recently had their tax exempt status cancelled because the IRS said that they could not reach any of the organization’s officers. That was a lie because they never even attempted to reach my sister or any of the other officers. With only 17 members and $1,100 in their checking account they are now defunct for all practical purposes.
But, back to the Tea Party groups. First off, these are political groups in nature and in summary the first issue that must be addressed is this one:
The stories began to come to light on Friday, when the Associated Press reported that a draft report by a Treasury Department inspector general had found that the I.R.S. subjected certain Tea Party-affiliated groups to undue scrutiny. Lois Lerner, head of the I.R.S. tax-exempt-organizations division, said the agency was “apologetic” for what she termed “absolutely inappropriate” actions by lower-level workers.
It’s important to review why the Tea Party groups were petitioning the I.R.S. anyway. They were seeking approval to operate under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. This would require them to be “social welfare,” not political, operations. There are significant advantages to being a 501(c)(4). These groups don’t pay taxes; they don’t have to disclose their donors—unlike traditional political organizations, such as political-action committees. In return for the tax advantage and the secrecy, the 501(c)(4) organizations must refrain from traditional partisan political activity, like endorsing candidates.
If that definition sounds murky—that is, if it’s unclear what 501(c)(4) organizations are allowed to do—that’s because it is murky. Particularly leading up to the 2012 elections, many conservative organizations, nominally 501(c)(4)s, were all but explicitly political in their work. For example, Americans for Prosperity, which was funded in part by the Koch Brothers, was an instrumental force in helping the Republicans hold the House of Representatives. In every meaningful sense, groups like Americans for Prosperity were operating as units of the Republican Party. Democrats organized similar operations, but on a much smaller scale. (They undoubtedly would have done more, but they lacked the Republican base for funding such efforts.)
So, lets be blunt, a bunch of conservative groups want to file for 501(c)4 tax exempt status so they do not have to pay taxes and they can hide their list of donors. These are political based and politically motivated groups that exist for one reason and one reason only: To promote a political agenda.
If you are a legitimate political organization why do you desire to hide your donor list? Is it because the majority of the funds for these groups come from a very limited number of individuals/companies?
According to the dictionary, “social welfare” is defined as: “The various social services provided by a state for the benefit of its citizens.” My sister and her autism group do provide a social welfare function while Americans For Prosperity and any and all of the various Tea Party groups do not!
Call me cynical but when I see that …”between 2010 and 2012, the number of applications for 501(c)(4) status more than doubled, from 1,591 to 3,398…” I cannot help but wonder what is going on?
Then I note that the head of the IRS was a Bush appointee during the period of March 24, 2008 until November 9, 2012 I cannot help it if I get even more cynical.
Sorry, as much as I detest the IRS and would love to find another way to collect taxes I cannot help but believe that this “crisis” is one that was intentionally and willfully manufactured by the right.
Personally, I think that all political groups should pay taxes and that their donor lists should be public information. Politics is no longer about principles and values but rather it is BIG BUSINESS; and as such this activity should be taxed and donor lists should be public.