March 16, 2012
Why Is The IRS Asking Tea Party Groups If They Know Me?
Following up on yesterday's post, Dems, GOP Spar Over IRS Investigation Into § 501(c)(4) Groups: Washington Examiner, Why Is The IRS Asking Tea Party Groups If They Know Me?, by Justin Binik-Thomas:
In a 2009 commencement speech at Arizona State, the president joked about using the IRS as an enforcement agent for dissenters. Little did I know that less than three years later the IRS would be asking groups about their association with . . . me.
The American Center for Law and Justice has reported that the IRS is targeting the nonprofit tax status of Tea Party and liberty groups across the nation. These conservative groups are now experiencing the targeted enforcement the President “joked” about.
The IRS questionnaires are quite detailed containing pages of multi-step questions. ... Some of the questions are baffling. ... Still others are overreaching, such as whether officers serve on other organizations or have any plans to run for political office. ... A recent IRS request of one of the liberty groups in the Cincinnati region moved into new and dangerous territory by asking about family members and specific individuals. Well, one individual: Me. The question asked:”Provide details regarding your relationship with Justin Binik-Thomas.” ...
Why ask about me? ... A caseworker assigned to me by my congresswoman said that I am the first individual she has seen listed in an IRS query during her decade-long career. I'm not sure I want this "first" attached to me. ...Does it relate to communications work I’ve done? Is it because I am Jewish Conservative? ... I am an active conservative and conservatism is a common thread between me and each of the organizations.
I again wonder how I tie in exactly. Am I so successful in my roles so as to be a threat to this administration? Am I so well known to be a valuable target? Or am I a pawn in a witch-hunt in the pursuit of another group or individual? How high does this go? Perhaps it is time for Congress to ask some pointed questions of the IRS.
(Hat Tip: Glenn Reynolds.)
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The IRS does not confer nor question non-profit status. Whether an entity is entitled to be a "non-profit" is a matter of State law.
These non-profits are asking to be exempt from tax, that is the non-profits want to become tax-exempt organizations. Either there is a misunderstanding of the distinction between the 2 different terms or the 2 are conflated for political reasons (reasonable, as these non-profits intend to engage in political activity).
When these organizations fill out an Form 1024 application to become a tax-exempt entities, they fill out the form and schedules. It is possible that the Form 1024 is inadequate to determine whether an organization engaged in political activities satisfies the rules that political activity cannot be its primary purpose. Thus, the need for follow up questions.
The strange think about Justin Binik-Thomas being offended by a question about him is that if being indignant is deserved, the answer to the question should be simple and not affect the outcome of the application. If not, then there is a legitimate reason to ask the question and receive an answer.
These political organizations act like they are the only organizations that have been asked to reply to numerous questions in regard to all organizations applying for tax-exempt status. If that is the case, that only these organizations are being asked follow up questions to their applications and no one else is, then there is something there that needs to be looked into. But if it is routine for other kinds of organizations to be asked to reply to numerous questions in regard to their application for tax-exempt status, then it seems that there is nothing more here than politicos playing politics.
There must be some sort of stats out there. It is hard to imagine that only so called tea party type organizations that engage in political activity are subject to scrutiny. Other organizations existed before the tea party existed. There must have been additional review of organizations that engage in political activities before the tea party existed. Was no organization given a look over before the tea party formed? If so, then there is a problem. If historically organizations that engaged in political activity were subject to scrutiny by the IRS, the there is no there there.
Posted by: tax guy | Mar 17, 2012 4:06:43 PM
"The strange think about Justin Binik-Thomas being offended by a question about him is that if being indignant is deserved, the answer to the question should be simple and not affect the outcome of the application. If not, then there is a legitimate reason to ask the question and receive an answer."
There is no legitimate reason to ask the question. I reviewed the IRS letter and the request in context. It was not related to any of the other questions asked nor did it have anything to do with a non-profit status. Whether the answer is simple or not and whether or not it impacts the applicaiton is irrelevant to why is the question asked. Nothing the organization submitted to the IRS previously even mentioned him. It is an odd question out of the blue.
A non-profit's relationship to any one private citizen who is not in public office is an improper question. And why only him, why not ask about any number of people running for office, like Joe the Plumber.
Posted by: Cheyanna Jaffke | Mar 21, 2012 3:17:24 PM