Their opinion: Politics in the IRS


The Republican American of Waterbury (Conn.), April 25, 2014

The Internal Revenue Service has been politicized in the Obama era. It harassed conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status between 2010 and 2012, and unfortunately, it appears the politicization remains alive.

The IRS has revoked the tax-exempt status of the Patrick Henry Center, a Virginia-based conservative group governed by Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS' code; this section covers "charitable organizations." According to IRS rules, 501(c)(3)s can't "participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office."

The IRS noted that a decade ago, the Henry Center published "Alerts" on its website that informed viewers of columns by the group's founder, retired FBI agent Gary Aldrich. Aldrich's columns encouraged people to vote for George W. Bush in his 2004 re-election bid; vote against Democratic candidate John Kerry; and thwart Hillary Rodham Clinton during her 2006 U.S. Senate re-election bid and any future presidential campaign.

The episode reeks of politics.

It is odd that the tax agency went after the Henry Center for 10-year-old doings. It could be that the politics-obsessed Obama administration fears the center will effectively rile voters up against Democrats, and is desperate to hamstring it.

While the actions described by the IRS apparently broke the rules for 501(c)(3)s, the Henry Center shouldn't have been organized under that section anyway. It was a perfect fit for another section, and if the IRS were truly apolitical, it would have encouraged the Henry Center to re-apply for tax-exempt status. Unfortunately, there is no evidence it has done so.

Section 501(c)(4) covers "social welfare organizations." Many of these groups, such as the National Rifle Association and Planned Parenthood, are devoted to political advocacy. According to its mission statement, the Henry Center "is committed to fostering, promoting, and advocating the restoration of Liberty as the primary object of American society." The center describes itself as committed to eight principles: Limited Government; Personal Responsibility; Constitutional Rule of Law; States' Rights; Free Market Economy; Provide for the Common Defense; and Protection of National Sovereignty.

Clearly, the Henry Center's main purpose is advocacy. The IRS should explain its apparent failure to encourage the center to apply for tax-exempt status under 501(c)(4). Until the IRS does so, it should be assumed -- given the agency's recent history -- this is another example of politics reigning supreme.

The tax system will not work if politics guides IRS decisions. The Henry Center affair demonstrates the Obama administration will keep up the politicization. That's not consistent with "hope and change."


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