I am confused by the flap over the IRS’s handling of the 501(c)(4) applications of certain tea parties, patriot parties and similar organizations.
These groups sought to be tax-free under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, which grants tax-exempt status to social welfare organizations. An organization does not qualify for this type of tax-exempt status if it supports candidates in political campaigns or if a majority of its activities are political.
Given that there are legal restrictions on how much politicking a 501(c)(4) entity can do, doesn’t it make sense that an organization calling itself “tea party” would get more scrutiny than an organization called, for example, “a homeless shelter?”
Imagine yourself as an IRS agent who has to assess which organizations qualify for this tax-exempt status. You know the legal restrictions on political activities. You see an application from a group whose very name, “tea party,” is a political party. Don’t you think you’d give them an extra look?
The real problem was that this “extra look” involved some inappropriate questions asked by poorly trained agents. The IRS should fix that, pronto.
Following President Obama’s first election, there were scads of tea party-type groups rushing to organize and fight back against whatever menace they envisioned would decimate the country. These are the groups who tried to qualify as tax-exempt social welfare organizations and who were examined under 501(c)(4) of the IRS code.
There are many with their own political agenda who would have us believe that this vetting process amounted to malicious “targeting” of conservative groups by a liberal administration. It sounds more like enforcing the law to me.