The IRS Debate

Published On: 2nd June 2013

There are some rather large debates happening right now regarding the IRS and some lawmakers want big-budget groups involved in this debate.

Lawmakers and Tea Party leaders in the House Republicans’ Tea Party Caucus rallied on May 16 on Capitol Hill, showing alarm over the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, which fell outside of the IRS’s normal tax procedures. This targeting involved social welfare organizations that had a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. Representative Michelle Bachmann, a republican from Minnesota brought up the axiom of “the power to tax is the power to destroy.

Many of the organizations that received extra scrutiny had to produce additional documentation to the IRS.

All of this has led to the IRS being under attack after a top official admitted that certain keywords within the names of organizations led to the increased scrutiny. This admission comes after years of denials by the IRS that such scrutiny was occurring. This resulted in President Obama ousting the acting IRS chief and a criminal investigation being opened by the Justice Department.

In other words, this is a mess.

Some Republicans, such as Karl Rove, state that the IRS scrutiny was started by Democrats in Congress. Rove referenced letters that were sent from congressional Democrats to administrators at the IRS. The theory is that Democrats told the IRS to take on the groups or face consequences. What was found to have been advocated was a crackdown on the big-budget 501(c)(4) groups, including a group co-founded by Rove, Crossroads GPS.

Senator Carl Levin, D-Michigan, wrote several letters to the IRS citing about a dozen of these groups both liberal and conservative. He said that there were anonymous donors funneling in large amounts of money.

At times, Republican lawmakers have warned the IRS to back off, while outside groups have called for stronger enforcement of the social welfare groups that they believe the IRS has been blind to so far.

Even lawyers from other groups were writing letters to the IRS about conservative and liberal 501(c)(4) groups.

Fred Wertheimer of the group Democracy 21 says that that the IRS was dead wrong in going after conservative groups and they are also dead wrong in not taking on the groups that were actually misusing the tax laws.

Some of the groups that were scrutinized were groups that created attack ads during the election. NPR did an analysis and found that the largest of these groups spent more than a quarter-billion dollars trying to shape the course of the 2012 presidential election.

But instead of the IRS making an active decision on regulating the social welfare groups, they did something else in secret. This didn’t give Congress a chance to react and didn’t give the unhappy groups the opportunity to sue. It is actually too late for that.

The full scope of this issue is still coming to light, but there are groups that state they were singled out for no reason and that the income tax process was a very difficult one for them.