In January and February of this year, the Internal Revenue Service began sending out letters to various local Tea Parties across the country. Mailed from the same Cincinnati, Ohio IRS office, these letters have reached Tea Parties in Virginia, Hawaii, Ohio, and Texas (we are hearing of more daily). There are several common threads to these letters: all are requesting more information from these independent Tea Parties in regard to their nonprofit 501(c)(4) applications (for this type of nonprofit, donations are not deductible). While some of the requests are reasonable, much of them are strikingly onerous and, dare I say, Orwellian in nature.
What are local Tea Partiers to think with requests like “Please identify your volunteers” or “are there board members or officers who have run or will run for office (including relatives)”? What possible reason would the IRS have for Tea Parties to “name your donors” when said donations are non-deductible? These are just a few of the questions asked by the IRS in these letters, and one cannot help but suspect an intrinsic threat encompassing all these demands.
The other question is the timing of these IRS letters requesting reams of copies and hundreds of hours of work and potentially thousands of dollars in accounting/legal fees (all due in two weeks). Some of these Tea Party groups have not received anything concerning their nonprofit status since 2010 prior to these letters.
These documents are further undermined by a letter sent to the IRS Commissioner Shulman. Signed by six Senators, it requests that the commissioner investigate 501(c)(4) groups to determine whether they are engaging in substantial campaign activity, including opposition to any candidate. Who signed this letter? Senators Schumer, Franken, Udall, Shaheen, Whitehouse, Merkley and Bennet — all Democrats.
Could it be that these Senators want the IRS to investigate the nonprofit status of Media Matters and its coordinated political activity with the White House? Or perhaps they are concerned with nonprofit ACORN groups’ record of voter fraud, and other previous campaign abuses including alleged close ties with President Obama’s Project Vote? No, when these Senators sent this letter to the IRS commissioner, the message would be very clear. The 501(c)(4) groups they want investigated are not those with Democratic liberal ties.
But why would a department like the IRS cave to Democrat demands? Could it be because this Democratic administration proposed a budget earlier this month that would result in “$1.1 billion in new funds for the Internal Revenue Service… that would translate to 5,112 new hires, or a 5 percent expansion of enforcement operations”? Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, couldn’t contain her glee at the prospect of over 5,000 new union hires, exclaiming in response to the announcement that “the administration’s 2012 funding level for the IRS would permit the agency to improve services through increasing response rates to inquiries, deploying enforcement resources to what the White House called high-return integrity activities and by modernizing information technology systems.”
The IRS is already focusing on “deploying enforcement resources,” as Kelley put it, toward targeting small, local Tea Parties; we’re sorry to report that these “high-return integrity activities” are generating a higher fear factor, not necessarily higher returns.
Read more here.