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May 21, 2013

Letter: The IRS and its 'social welfare' probes

To the editor:

After writing the letter in which I agreed with the Tea Party’s outrage at apparently having been “targeted” by the IRS for its political views (letters, the Times, Friday, May 17), I did some more digging.

That digging made me realize my earlier agreement with the tea drinking, three-corner-hat-wearing crowd was misplaced.

Now, no one likes the idea of any government agency, particularly the IRS, misusing or abusing its authority to intimidate, over investigate, or just plain hassle any citizen’s group or organization — be it of the left or the right.

But the more digging I did, the more I found myself questioning if that is what the IRS actually did to the Tea Party.

I also discovered most of the IRS scrutiny of various Tea Party groups occurred while the agency was still headed by a Republican who’d been appointed by G.W. Bush and remained in that position on into the Obama administration.

In addition, I learned the IRS was also targeting liberal leaning groups that were claiming, like the Tea Party groups, to be “social welfare” agencies seeking official 501-C4 classification so as to receive a variety of tax breaks and exemptions from requirements pertaining to the disclosure of their finances, the identities of their donors, and other benefits not afforded groups and organizations whose true foci and activities are political in nature.

The IRS is mandated by law to investigate such entities to determine if their claims of being “social welfare” agencies. as opposed to political action organizations, are valid.

Interestingly, no Tea Party groups were denied their 501-C4 status and the tax and non-disclosure benefits that come with that classification as a result of the IRS actions. Several of the liberal groups that were investigated, however, had their applications for 501-C4 status denied.

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