Thursday, May 16, 2013

IRS targeted liberal groups, too

In the midst of news that the Internal Revenue Service targeted tea party groups comes news that they also set their sights on liberal groups, according to Bloomberg News, who reported:
The Internal Revenue Service, under pressure after admitting it targeted anti-tax Tea Party groups for scrutiny in recent years, also had its eye on at least three Democratic-leaning organizations seeking nonprofit status.

One of those groups, Emerge America, saw its tax-exempt status denied, forcing it to disclose its donors and pay some taxes. None of the Republican groups have said their applications were rejected.

Progress Texas, another of the organizations, faced the same lines of questioning as the Tea Party groups from the same IRS office that issued letters to the Republican-friendly applicants. A third group, Clean Elections Texas, which supports public funding of campaigns, also received IRS inquiries.

In a statement late yesterday, the tax agency said it had pooled together the politically active nonpartisan applicants -- including a “minority” that were identified because of their names. “It is also important to understand that the group of centralized cases included organizations of all political views,” the IRS said in its statement.
The Washington Post weighed in on the issue, writing:
This doesn’t get the IRS off the hook, however. Legal experts tend to agree that the IRS should carefully scrutinize all would-be 501(c)(4)s that tread the line between “social welfare” and politics. But, they add, it’s important for the IRS to stay neutral and not appear like it’s putting an unfair focus on certain political views. That’s why the IRS Cincinnati office’s push to flag all Tea Party groups for review was deemed “inappropriate.”

“It’s part of [the IRS's] job to look for organizations that may be more likely to have too much campaign intervention,” Loyola law professor Ellen Aprill said yesterday. “But it is important to try to make these criteria as politically neutral as possible.”
The Post  also looked into the why and how the IRS vets groups for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. Meanwhile, fallout from the controversy has forced the IRS Commissioner to resign:
President Obama on Wednesday demanded and accepted the resignation of the acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Steven T. Miller, as part of a multi-pronged effort to quell controversies that threaten to dominate his second term.
Stories of the IRS targeting specific groups or individuals are legendary. In light of the latest, more people are speaking out about their experiences with this powerful government agency, including Franklin Graham who is president of his father's Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as well as the international humanitarian organization Samaritan's Purse. Earlier this week VPOD's Adam Frost reported on the IRS’s targeting of Jewish pro-Israel groups as early as 2010.

The IRS is now being investigated by six congressional committees as Congress looks for answers about who is investigated, and why.

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