Obama Scandal: IRS Scandal Reveals Horribly Broken Tax Code


Like Paul Ryan, I am going to disregard my original point for the moment and talk a bit about what is going on with the alleged "IRS scandal." Let us first get a few things straight:

The targeting and impairment of any group based on political or religious affiliation is not permitted. The IRS cannot prevent a group from acquiring a specific exemption status because it disagrees with their political beliefs. It would do us good to recognize that this has in fact been suspected under both parties, and that every time, it is wrong.

Further, the reason behind the Tea Party's desire for 501(c)(4) status is really about financial disclosure — not tax exemption. The taxes that these groups would pay are not enough to cause such uproar.

The loose disclosure laws are. Because this problem has come about under Democratic leadership, the onus now falls on them to handle it. Handling the problem does not necessarily include granting the Tea Party tax-exempt status.

With that in mind, we can assess the situation. Tea Party groups were denied 501(c)(4) status and claim that they were discriminated against based on their beliefs, not the actual tax law. What is the actual tax law? Herein lies the heart of the problem. The IRS claims "seeking legislation germane to the organization's programs is a permissible means of attaining social welfare purposes" and that 501(c)(4) organizations "may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity." In other words, they can engage in political advocacy but not advocate politically. Excuse me, but, "huh?"

On one hand, maybe IRS oversight did not understand the standards by which we determine the non-political/quasi-political, leading to one-sided scrutiny. One the other hand, maybe the Tea Party groups did not understand those standards either, and thought that they deserved a status that is perhaps ill-fitting in regards to their work.

This "scandal" should return us to the conversations we had years ago when Citizens United laced the airwaves. Why shouldn't organizations have to disclose their donors? After all, if you are following all the rules, and honestly trying to prevent one (or a few) voices from dominating the public discourse — like a good Republican Democrat should — then what are you hiding? Perhaps we should be more concerned with the categories that we use to award tax exemption, and work towards awarding those who truly champion "social welfare," regardless of whether they go by "Tea Party" or "progressive."