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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

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“Social Welfare” non-profits, or 501(c)(4)s, have existed for nearly a century but in the last decade they’ve rapidly transformed America’s political landscape, empowering shadowy tax-exempt organizations to shape elections without ever naming their donors. These groups must be “operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare” but that definition is hazy at best, which means they can spend millions to advocate for or against issues and candidates.

Bureaucrats at the IRS recently apologized for targeting groups with “Tea Party” and “Patriot” in the title that were applying for 501(c)(4) status. For some strange reason, the IRS had a suspicion these groups might have a partisan agenda. An IRS Inspector General’s report expected soon will likely add fuel to the fuming anger coming from Republican politicians about what they call an egregious abuse of power.

The New Republic‘s Alec MacGillis explains that the real scandal is how the IRS wasted its precious resources on these groups:

At the same time it was sending long questionnaires to groups like a Tea Party outfit in Waco, the IRS was doing precious little to rein in the groups that were making a true mockery of the law on 501(c)(4)s—outfits like Crossroads GPS, the organization co-founded by Karl Rove that spent $71 million last year. This spending was undeniably geared toward influencing the 2012 election but, unlike regular SuperPACs such as its sister group American Crossroads, Crossroads GPS was not required to disclose the source of the funds. All told, the 501(c)(4)s spent $254 million in last year’s election, nearly three times what they spent in 2010. And yes, most of this spending was on behalf of the Republican side.

Here are five right-wing “social welfare” non-profits that are obviously only interested in social welfare.

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42 Responses to 5 Republican Right-Wing ‘Social Welfare’ Non-Profits

  1. I seriously do not see what the big issue is with the IRS targeting Tea Party labeled groups.

    If the OWS had started several student run off shoots I would have no problem with the Federal Government being stricter with their documentation for tax purposes.

    Am I missing something why is this a big deal?

    • Agreed, however, the article is missing a key point. The Tea Party is more than happy to receive the attention that the media is giving them over this despite what they may say publicly. It allows the Tea Party to play the victim against the Fed.

      I believe the IRS is within their right to audit these groups but it may just make them look like political bullies in the end. Remember, The Tea party already believes that the IRS is an illegitimate department designed to subjugate American citizens. Stay tuned, this has the potential to get ugly.

      • Yes, I do not think the implementation of their policy was fair or equitable. But the idea behind the process seems sound. But like I said I really don’t see why this rather mundane bureaucratic issue is catching so much publicity.

        • It only became an issue because someone had the gall to bitch about a Federal Agency just trying to do the job that is required of them. It shouldn’t be a story at all but the Ohio Tea Party cried foul and ran straight to the press and since the media is always looking for a juicy story, we now have to deal with this crap. Now this will probably snow ball into something much larger and since most Americans seem to have a natural aversion to taxation anyway, the Tea Party may come out of this looking better than they deserve to while the IRS will have to take another one for the team.

          • Knowing the Tea Party’s previous work, I would also investigate! This is yet another example of false outrage by the GOP to cover up what they aren’t doing, which is running this government!

          • No doubt. They are loving every minute of this. Their numbers are still relatively small though. If the article is correct and I sincerely hope it is, the Tea Party looks as though it may be trying to extricate itself from the Republican Party to form their own conservative party with an entirely different agenda then the Repubs. This could in affect weaken both the Tea Party and the Republican Party.

          • Perhaps, but all things in context. They addressed the fact that it was unfair, it wasn’t a policy implemented Nationally, upper levels of the IRS have formally apologized.

            It’s common sense to screen political groups with greater scrutiny. The only issue was that they were viewing strictly partisan aligned groups. As long as they formallize a fairer policy then essentially there is no issue.

      • I agree with you. The Tea Party is taking advantage of this issue to get visibility and to appeal to their supporters by playing the victimhood card. I doubt any of them would be too upset if the target was Mr. Soros or any prominent Democrat or Democratic institution. An integral part of the IRS process is auditing individuals and/or organization that they suspect have not filed their tax returns correctly, either accidentally or deliberately. It was used effectively to put Al Capone in jail, hopefully it will remain a useful tool to put all the crooks we have in the slammer. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be too effective to go after the multi-millionaire who are stashing millions of dollars in safe-havens overseas. Needless to say, the latter is due to “friendly” legislation designed to protect people who should be serving time in maximum security prisons.

        • Their ineffectiveness may be more of a consequence due in part to the fact they are understaffed and there is a lot of fraud going on out there. With the “friendly” legislation as you mentioned,
          coupled with what I mentioned, it would seem that the IRS is a bit hamstrung. They face the tough task of trying to unravel the modern day equivalent of the Gordian Knot all while trying to operate within the law. It’s one big clusterf**k.

      • How stupid would it be if the IRS, tasked with trying to determine whether a group is a social welfare outfit or a political action organization, did NOT start by looking at the name of the group. Call yourself a Tea Party something, and you invite scrutiny under U.S. tax law. You invite investigation, and presto–you may squeal loudly about government over-reach.

        It used to be that groups with African American affiliations were subject to extra scrutiny. Famously, the IRS audited the NAACP exhaustively because, because (as the auditor explained in a letter to the NAACP giving the reason for the tax audit) NAACP leadership had been vocal critics of the Bush administration.

        • I find it to be awfully convenient that a group that openly advocates to abolish taxes suddenly files for tax exemption status. It would be a dereliction of duty for the IRS to grant that status without investigating that group first.

        • The IRS already backed off and the Right is still bitching about it.
          The IRS should continue unabated and to hell with the Right. Let them squeal like pigs. Oh wait! That’s what they have been doing all along anyway isn’t it? And you’re correct, the Dems should grow a pair.

          • Too bad they fail to realize that the IRS is a completely autonomous agency that is only answerable to the law. All I know is that if the IRS wanted to investigate me, I have nothing to hide so have at it. Maybe the Tea Party has something to hide, perhaps that is why they are crying foul. They can try to pin this on the President all they want but I think to the people that matter anyway, President Obama’s image is will be fine as long as people understand how the laws work.

          • How about if the IRS had at it every year for five years running?

            And, by the way, the IRS is not ‘a completely autonomous agency’. it’s part of the Treasury Department, which reports to the president.

          • I don’t mind being wrong as long as I learn something valuable.
            That still wouldn’t give the president impunity to use the IRS as his own personal attack dogs.

          • The situation is quite the opposite. Obama has shown excessive reluctance to use the power of the presidency to put wrongdoers on trial. Example: Attorney General Eric Holder has explained his reluctance to seek indictments of people like Jamie Dimon in terms of the difficulty of proving intent to defraud.

            I believe that the real reason for Holder’s reluctance is his past affiliation with “Wall Street law firms.” When Holder’s term of office is up, he’ll undoubtedly seek to return to those very firms that represent the miscreants that he now refuses to punish.

            He’s not going to foul his own nest. He wants those people to like him. Prosecuting their prized clients, like Dimon, isn’t going to endear them to him, or to his boss, the president. Have you considered where Obama is going when he completes his present term? Hint: Obama is a lawyer. Another hint: The big money in law is with the “Wall Street law firms.”

            See how easy it is to figure out what’s going on when you just follow the money?

          • Well then, what is your idea of a reasonable president? Do you have someone in mind that you would like in the Oval Office? Mind you, I’m not trying to split hairs with you or mock you, I am actually interested in what you have to say. There definitely isn’t
            anyone out there right now who is squeaky clean. We all know the nature of politics and it’s a very dirty business, not that I like it any, but the only way to really straighten out this mess is to completely clean house and start over again. That will never happen.

            I’m sure Obama’s reluctance does have a lot to do with what you mentioned, but that would at the very least make him no different than anyone that came before him. I’m sure politicians
            from both parties have a lot of money tied up in Wall St.. Case in point, OWS couldn’t even get the support they were looking for from the Democratic Establishment. OWS was dropped like a bad habit and it’s a damn shame too. For now, all we can do is try to make a difference each in our own way.

          • My idea of a reasonable president is Theodore Roosevelt. Right behind him is Franklin Roosevelt. Behind both of them: Harry Truman.

            I like what I know about Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive movement and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Both Roosevelts reined in the excessive behavior of the Wall Street crowd without causing a wholesale breakdown of the entire financial system.

            Harry Truman showed true courage when he stopped the railroad and coal unions from organizing strikes immediately after World War II. On the same token, he went after the businesses who tried to “jump the gun” on price controls.

          • You’re funny, I should have said living, but I can’t blame you for your choices, those are three good ones. Your choices also
            speak volumes as to the character of today’s politicians or should I say lack of character? A lot of those protections the New Deal gave us have been abolished and it is tragic that there is no will to reinstate them. I think the crony capitalism and immense waste will destroy us long before the deficit does.

          • The whole idea of seeing it got publicized was to play the victim and gain support. So what if they got a little extra auditing – if they had nothing to hide then it is only an inconvenience.

          • You and fredappell are so right, if they have nothing to hide, then why worry about it.

          • This comment is for both you and neeceoooo. Throughout all the campaigns the last bunch of years, all I hear from the Right is how Dems, Liberals, Progressives or whatever they like to call us, love to play the victim, we refuse to take responsibility for our
            actions,blah,blah,blah ect. Hmm! It sounds an awful lot like what they are doing here. Man up Tea Party and stop with the hypocrisy and hysterics. Actually, what we are witnessing here is nothing short of political theater. It’s a useful tool and always will

    • Actually, you’re missing a great deal, but you’re no more guilty than a taxing authority that targets taxpayers for audits because they were once audited and found to have evaded taxes.

  2. Every single organization, from corporations to churches, that make a profit should be taxed. All loopholes should be eliminated, individuals and heads of corporations that use tax shelters overseas to avoid paying their fair share of taxes should serve time in jail for tax evasion or fraud, and subsidies should only be given to startups to help develop new industries or technologies.
    Tax exemptions to organizations that are making a profit or serve as stooges for special interests must end. If they continue to enjoy the privileges they currently have we – the people – must start a movement to exempt everyone from paying taxes. 🙂

    • Non-profits do pay tax on those activities that do not fit the definition of the reason for which they were organized. This is termed UBTI in the Internal Revenue Code: Unrelated Business Taxable Income.

      Thus, a not-for-profit organized under Internal Revenue Code Section 501 (c)(3) pays tax on revenue derived from the sale of its mailing list.

  3. The ONLY reason it is a big deal….is that IT IS RIGHT WING ORGANIZATIONS. The Republicans LOVE to play the victim!!!!
    The IRS went after the NAACP after the 2000 elections…..and Joe Scarborough was one of the sponsors. The IRS went after a black church after the 2004 elections because of a sermon.

    GIVE ME A FREAKING BREAK…..Dems, get smart: use this to an advantage instead of whimpering.

    • I don’t know what it would take for the democrats to get smart but it would sure help the situation if they would all speak out and voice these opinions. I like what everyone here is saying about the scandal, it puts another perspective on the situation that is much easier to swallow.

  4. It appears the Tea Party opened a Pandora’s box. We need to look at ALL so-called non-profits, and if there is any evidence that they endorse a political candidate or a vote on a particular bill they should lose their non-profit status. This investigation should include churches. I know of one case where a priest from his Sunday pulpit told the parish not to vote for a certain presidential candidate…I am sure this is one of hundreds of thousands of political endorsements from the pulpits across the country.

  5. And the IRS apologized to people who are aggressive tax evaders; people who hate welfare but wallow in it like proverbial mud diving welfare queens; people who hate government but lie, scheme, and plot to use the government. The scandal they are trying to create will back fire on them like shit hitting the fan. . . CLOSE THE SOCIAL WELFARE TAX EXEMPTION LOOP HOLE NOW!!!!!! END THE 501c4 LOOP HOLE!!!

  6. I haven’t understood this uproar from the first day I heard about it. A segment of the IRS is supposed to make sure that groups qualify as “social welfare nonprofits” before the groups are granted that status and its advantages, but no questions or research can be used to prove or disprove the supposed qualifications.

    If something seems to hint at political influence, it must be ignored? So, how does the IRS ever find out who’s actually following the rules? If they can’t check anything, then why even bother having this farce of a status? (To be honest, if I’d been working for the IRS, I’d have been forced to resign, too, because if something didn’t smell right to me, I would have been checking into it and figuring that was one of the responsibilities of my job.)

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