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10:02 AM on 05/14/2013
Yeah, I've been thinking along the same lines. We know the what, but not the why. I'll reserve my opinion on whether this is or is not a scandal until I hear some IRS high-ups testify.
Enjoying life in West Ohio
09:49 AM on 05/14/2013
I don't like the impression that the IRS singled out a particular political bent for its audit tactics. This should be clarified. Was it a benign computer search of organizations that might reasonably be deemed wholly political (did they key in "Crossroads")? Did they target right wingers with the intent of intimidating and harassing them? The issue is why we need this gray zone in the tax exempt corporation code and how the IRS makes a determination without bias based on the political orientation of the 501c(4) non-profit corporation. What is a "social welfare" agency? Finally, we must get the money out of politics. We might start with banning all 501c(4) exemptions, making them apply for c(3) or c(6). And Citizens United must go. Campaigns should have limited public financing. Period.
"Don't confuse tyranny with losing"
11:41 AM on 05/14/2013
No one was "audited". The groups were applying for tax-exempt status and their applications were selected, based on apparently a search-engine type system, for additional scrutiny. Personally, I'm quite happy with the IRS doing double checks on organizations that seek to benefit from a status that those of us who truly DO provide social welfare enjoy. If you remember at the time, there were dozens of these types of groups popping up all over. Most, no doubt were merely fronts for folks like the Koch Bros.
09:47 AM on 05/14/2013
I'm a liberal who didn't vote for a single Republican this last election. I don't see any that I can vote for in the foreseeable future. I take no pleasure in this scandal, believe me, but what the author says here is pure bunk. There may be automated systems to flag groups that need looking into, but such flags only alert humans who make all the decisions. You can't blame the computer.

When you offer such pathetic rationalizations to white wash extreme corruption in our cause, you do it no favors. Just consider how the country thinks of Nixon to this day. Remember that chief among his articles of impeachment was the charge that he was using the IRS in just this fashion. His supporters used your rationalizations almost word for word. How did that work out for Nixon and the Republicans?

Mr. Abrams, you really should look at yourself, at what you are doing and saying. When you find yourself standing with those who have done what Nixon did, and find yourself dissembling as his supporters did, it is time to reevaluate your position.
10:08 AM on 05/14/2013
Political groups of all stripes should be flagged. The tax exempt status is for social welfare groups, groups that serve the common good; not partisan political machines...
10:53 AM on 05/14/2013
If you could get anyone to propose such a law, I would surely support it, but that is not the law as it now stands.  As it now stands "educational" purposes get the exemptions.  You just can't campaign for a party or a candidate.  And it is very corrupt and criminal to see the IRS used as a weapon by a politician to silence those who disagree with him.  Which is what Obama and his supporters did in this case.  I fear that my liberal cause may very well loose the Senate as a result.  Nixon was forced to resign over this very thing.
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10:13 AM on 05/14/2013
Thank you ! Such activities encourage more of the same and undermine respect for government.
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Freedom is Fundamental
09:45 AM on 05/14/2013
No "vague and subjective distinction" should EVER be up to bureaucratic determination, much less to the IRS in the first place.

Vague and subjective distinction have no place in law or regulation EVER.
"Don't confuse tyranny with losing"
11:46 AM on 05/14/2013
The IRS can only operate within the confines of the tax code as determined by Congress. If the distinctions are "vague and subjective" it is because the tax law was written that way. They are the enforcers, not the creators.
Paul Abrams
12:06 PM on 05/14/2013
You are correct. Actually, the law, as written, was neither vague nor subjective. It says that the exemption is for organizations that "EXCLUSIVELY" do social-welfare. The IRS, in 1959, interpreted "exclusively" to mean "primarily". And, it is "primarily" that makes it subjective.

Don't blame the law.
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03:26 PM on 05/14/2013
Paul, I have to inject that insofar as the Tea Party was concerned, they had become well publicized enough by this juncture for anyone to conclude they in no way could be considered even primarily as a social welfare entity. The people they had submitting applications to the IRS could not be so ill informed as to what the code plainly said and were well aware they did not meet that criteria whatsoever. Thus, it must raise the suspicion that these applications were submitted for the express purpose of concealing the identity of donors. Otherwise they could or should have applied as PAC's and went about their business. The donor concealment issue, in my opinion, was a huge element in their selecting which status to seek.
09:45 AM on 05/14/2013
Paul is exactly correct. This is not "targeting" in the sense of an enemies list. The statues provide organizations certain status based on exacting criteria. It is the IRS's job to determine whether or not these applications for some status are legitimate or not. Given the similarities of these many organizations, it is not at all unreasonable to group them together and examine their filings before approving their application.

I am currently chairman of a group called Friends of Bee Cave Dog Park that is seeking 501,c,3, status and the IRS will examine that application to determine whether or not to grant us that status based on what the organization has done and plans to do. It is taking months to make the decision and we accept that is the way it should be done.

The media goes way overboard is assuming wrong-doing and I really do hope there are hearings that could expose the real purpose of these organizations. Their intent is totally political and not intended to be "social welfare" organizations in any sense of that term. I believe they are using the tax code to shield their activities and especially their donors. If that is true, then their applications are fraudulent.
09:40 AM on 05/14/2013
Bingo! Spot on.
stultorum nunquam discere
09:34 AM on 05/14/2013
amen brother (also NOT on facebook :) )