A few words on this Internal Revenue Service “scandal” that is sweeping over the political landscape.
What do we hire the IRS for? Are they not hired by the American people to collect taxes and prevent or bring to justice tax fraud?
Regarding the fraud prevention role. If I was running an organization with the goal of preventing tax fraud, and I was getting applications from organizations that proudly proclaimed an ideological opposition to paying taxes and who were applying for tax-exempt status, I would give those applications special scrutiny. Isn’t that the job of the IRS?
The fact is that the IRS has had its budget cut by 17 percent per capita since 2002 at the same time that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision resulted in a deluge of requests for tax-exempt status.
The Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, which processes these claims was inundated with 2,774 requests for tax exemption last year. Compared to 1,741 in 2010. (Data from David Levinthal at the Center for Public Integrity.)
One of the first groups to request and receive 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status in 2010 was American Crossroads, an organization devoted to “electioneering communications.”
A 1963 federal appeals court ruled that, “the organization must be a community movement designed to accomplish community ends.” American Crossroads is run by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. Steven Law, former general counsel of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and chief of staff to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, is the president of the group.
Congress requires the Internal Revenue Service to review all applications for tax-exempt status to weed out those that are partisan, political, or that generate private gain. What happened there?
If I was applying for a U.S. visa and I gave my employer’s name as “Islamic Jihad” wouldn’t I expect extra scrutiny of my application for a visa? And as an American who expects Immigration and Customs to keep terrorists out of the country, don’t I expect extra scrutiny for groups that proclaim an antagonism to this country?
Is this any different from a group calling itself “tea party” and seeking tax-exempt status.
This tempest is just the latest in a long series of “scandals” generated by right-wing hacks who go by various names including tea party. Their assault on the U.S. federal government is due to a misguided belief that it is the spending by the federal government that is holding the U.S. economy down.
Unfortunately, they were nowhere to be found during the years that individual debt in this country was soaring to all-time highs during the greatest real-estate bubble in world history. But, the Reagan Revolution lives on, working to keep wages down and corporate profits at record levels.
And the working man is told by the tea partiers that it is the fault of big government in Washington. The tragedy of the situation is how the politically correct on both sides fall in line to badmouth civil servants who are trying their best to serve the public. Pathetic!
Greg Hickey of Days Creek has been a resident of Douglas County since 1972. He works as a registered nurse. Hickey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.