By Jim Hightower

IRS Should Outlaw All ‘Social Welfare’ Political Fronts — Left and Right

June 5, 2013 12:00 am Category: Memo Pad, Politics 43 Comments A+ / A-
IRS Should Outlaw All ‘Social Welfare’ Political Fronts — Left and Right

If you’re covered in political stink, it might be prudent to avoid yelling “dirty politics” at others.

Lately, a mess of right-wing Tea Party groups have been wailing nonstop that they have been targeted, harassed and denied their civic rights by partisan, out-of-control, Obamanistic IRS thugs (no adjective too extreme when assailing Obama or the IRS). The groups certainly are right that it’s abhorrent for a powerful agency to run a repressive witch-hunt against any group of citizens just because of their political views. After all, liberals have frequently felt the lash of such official repression by assorted McCarthyite-Nixonite-Cheneyite forces over the years, and it must be condemned, no matter who the victims.

In this case, however, the right-wing groups were not targeted by government snoops and political operatives, but tagged by their own applications to be designated by the IRS as 501(c)(4) “social welfare” groups. This privileged status would allow them to take unlimited bags of corporate cash without ever revealing to voters the names of the corporations putting up the money. The caveat is that 501(c)(4)s are supposed to do actual social welfare work and cannot be attached to any candidate or party, nor can politics be their primary purpose.

Forget what the rule says, though. Such notorious political players as Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have cynically set up their own pretend-welfare groups, openly using them as fronts to run secret-money election campaigns. Suddenly, hundreds of wannabe outfits were demanding that they be given the special hide-the-money designation, too, brazenly lying about their overt political purpose. Some even asserted that they were engaged in no political activity, when their own websites bragged that they were.

It was these groups’ stupidity and audacity that prompted the IRS inquiries, and their current hissy fit about the agency is really just a PR effort to let them continue their “social welfare” fraud.

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IRS Should Outlaw All ‘Social Welfare’ Political Fronts — Left and Right Reviewed by on . If you're covered in political stink, it might be prudent to avoid yelling "dirty politics" at others. Lately, a mess of right-wing Tea Party groups have been w If you're covered in political stink, it might be prudent to avoid yelling "dirty politics" at others. Lately, a mess of right-wing Tea Party groups have been w Rating:

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Comments

  • Sand_Cat

    More lies and hypocrisy

  • Lynda Groom

    They don’t have to outlaw anything. The law is very clear on 501 c4’s. Follow the law and cancel the status of those not following the law in its entirety. If any are involved in politics….game over for them. The real scandal is the taxpayers subsidizing these groups for far too long already. It is beginning to appear that the faux scandal of IRS action will actually bring about reform to the poorly handled system of tax exempt institutions. Of course that has never been the intention. Sometimes you have to be very careful what you ask for.

    • lana ward

      The tax payers didn’t subsidize any of the Tea Party groups. Dems said they were dead. They weren’t. They were kidnapped by Obama, his IRS, his DOJ and His FBI. They were held against their will, blindfolded and gaged by this corrupt Government OHitler has put in place. They stole the election and I don’t think they will like the outcome of these hearings. The world will see what a skunk we have in out WH. Dirty, rotten Chicago skunk

      • Mike Maricle

        Iana take your meds

        • BDC_57

          It won’t do any good

        • plc97477

          I don’t think there is any meds that are strong enough for her/him.

      • Lynda Groom

        Lana please tell me you are not the ignorant concerning the tax exempt states of political groups? When folks get away with such nonsense (see subsidies) the slack in collection of revenue comes from the taxpayers. BTW, winning an election be over 300 in electoral college and 5 mission votes is not stealing an election. Try and keep it real.

        • lana ward

          If you loved your country, you would stand with the Tea Party. They believe as our Founding Fathers believed. What the f**k is wrong with you!!!!

          • Lynda Groom

            I do indeed love my country and I served in the armed services from 1961 to 1969. How about you girl…what have you done for the country?

          • lana ward

            I thank you for your service, seriously. So what happened, when did you fall out of love with America??

          • neeceoooo

            And how dare you question the loyalty of Lynda or any one of us. Just because we don’t think like you (thank God) this does not mean we love our country less.

          • lana ward

            Oh, I dare!!! If you loved America, you would be on the side of those who stand up for America, not on the side of those tearing her down!!

          • Lynda Groom

            I didn’t, but it is obvious that you confuse love of country with an agenda driven ideology.

          • m8lsem

            My family fought in the Revolution. We have been present on this land in some cases since 1630, in others longer, much longer. I’ve had high school and college courses about that period extensively, and have briefed cases to the Supreme Court. Today’s Tea Party is nothing like the historic one, and the powers behind today’s Tea Party stand for every except what the historic ones did.

            In short, today’s “Tea Party” members like yourself are likely innocently tools of the hard-right 1%. Brothers Koch fund much of the Tea Party, and they stand for Corporate Fascism, namely government of the people, by the rich, for the rich. I will pray for your awakening.

            The Founding Fathers did not stand for racism. They did not stand for government by the rich for the rich. They did not stand for economic privilege. They did not stand for anarchy for the rich., serfdom for the rest of us. And they did not live in a country with cities the size of NY or LA, nor with a 21st Century economy and like-today sets of national characteristics and infrastructure.

            Income disparity in the US presently is unprecedented since the eve of the Great Depression, the last time wealth belonged to the very few, the last time workers were overwhelmingly poorly paid, the last time communism and fascism seriously threatened to win over the people of the United States.

            Today a handful of people are financially as well of as the combined wealth of nearly 50% of the people combined, that’s like 6 to 10 people having as much wealth as 150,000,000 others combined; this wealth of the few did not result from hard work, but rather from inheritance. These few are the people who manipulate the less knowledgable into working for them politically, and call the result ‘Tea Party.’

            The only way the current and the historic Tea Party would be alike, would be if King George and his royal ministers had formed the then Tea Party to promote remaining part of the British Empire.

          • BDC_57

            very well said, but lana is crazy as a bed bug.

          • lana ward

            You are in for a rude awakening

          • BoJester

            The answer to your question is…YOU and the CONSERVATARDS who think like you. Actually that is non-thinking

      • m8lsem

        You need mental health counseling. If the Obama administration were anything at all like you describe, you and anyone similarly vocal would be in jail already.

        • lana ward

          The OHitler Administration is exactly that. Fema Camps are ready. They have enough body bags and plastic caskets for half the population. They have stockpiled tons of ammo. He has his Civilian National Security Force in place. Right now he’s trying to figure out how to get our guns. When the economy finally goes to hell, as he has planned, their will be civil unrest, then it begins

          • neeceoooo

            You are completely and totally so deranged, you need help.

          • m8lsem

            OK, please provide me with an objective source for your information. For starts we’ll exclude Fox and MSNBC. Glenn Beck is not an objective source.

            The source must be identified, and the basis of the source’s information disclosed. I’m not interested in Site A spouting it with its source being Site B; and Site B spouting it with its source Site C; and Site C spouting it with its source Site A.

            What it boils down to is: You need to disprove
            http://www.factcheck.org/2008/11/obamas-national-security-force/
            with references to genuine sources not solely on the Web, and when from the Web preferably with an .edu, .gov, or mainstream press domain.

          • Lynda Groom

            Honey can you point to the location of any FEMA camp? Mr. Beck is running you into the ground with nonsense and you seem to be eating up the garbage.

    • montanabill

      You do understand that the NAACP is one of these groups?

      Besides, the question is not about following the law. It is about the illegal questions that were asked, about private information that was leaked and about dragging out the inquisition of each, sometimes over years.

      • Lynda Groom

        bill, it does not matter what group. The NAACP or anyone else who users tax exempt status to work on political agendas should lose the tax free status. Did you read what I wrote. It was clear that I said cancel the status of any group not following the law as written. Politics is not allowed according the words within the law. Sure and simple, we are being had by loopholes for political purposes. That is the scandal. Also please note that no illegal questions were asked…and the groups got their exemption. Get it.

        • montanabill

          I don’t disagree, nor does the law. However, you are incorrect about the legality of some of the questions that were asked.

          • Lynda Groom

            Perhaps usual, but illegal requires a lot of evidence…which has not been presented.

      • elw

        You may or may not be right about the questions. Those would be different for each applicant. But if the applicants were answering questions in a way that brought up more questions, than it can take a long time. Just listening to the testimony of the organizations before the committee make me ask did they even qualitified in the first place. I would like to hear from their mouth how what they do is good for their community and the people in it?

    • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

      The problem on the IRS end is determining what extent of the 501(c)(4) activity is outfight political as opposed to “educational” or “social welfare”, based on expended funds.
      Outright political is easy to figure out. They are spending money or providing like services in support of a particular candidate(s) or a particular ballot issue.
      Educational is a bit hazier. They can publish a “voter guide” that provided greater detail about an issue or candidate without either endorsing or opposing the candidate or issue. They really have to be careful about this because if it can be interpreted that the guide is specifically identifying only reasons why someone or something should be opposed or supported without giving a balanced view, it crosses the line to “political”.
      As for social welfare, that is a lot trickier. You can sponsor a social gathering and invite people to listen to or meet certain people. We all have the right to socially interact with those of our choosing. If all the guest speakers happen to be candidates from one particular party, as long as it is not an outright campaign event it can still be a community clam bake, steak roast, chicken roast, etc.
      The thing is outright political spending must be at least $0.01 less than 50% of the total financial and “like” outlay to maintain 501(c)(4) status. If it is shown that they cross that line, they risk losing their status. The rules are a lot easier for 501(c)(3) organizations. They are allowed NO political spending. The major difference between the two is 501(c)(3) organizations are required to produce a list of donors, donations received and full accounting of all expenditures because donations to them are considered tax deductible. Having had to assist in the annual report of one 501(c)(3), I know how we had to account for every penny received and spent. 501(c)(4) organizations still have to account for expenditures and income but do not have to provide donor lists, as donations to them are NOT tax deductible.

  • http://foundersfollies.blogspot.com/ Chredon

    I think any group that wants to get tax-exempt charitable status should actually be engaged in charity work. You know, like providing food, shelter, clothing, or basic education to the poor. If your primary activity is buying advertising time, then you are not a charity, you are an advocacy group and should not have tax-exempt status.

    • Theodora30

      That is exactly what the law says yet the IRS has been interpreting the unambiguous term “exclusively” to mean “primarily” for years, overriding Congress’s constitutional rights to set the law. This is the real scandal.

  • docb

    It is the roberts activist court under the ‘citizens united’ ruling for the conservative corporations/donors and the congress who allowed the distinction from ‘primarily to exclusively’! Congress and the roberts court did not give guidelines…They are to blame..

    The IRS belly of the beast workers are ‘CIVIL SERVICE’…they must of necessity find their own.—if nothing is provided! Remove the social welfare and education designation . The whiners from the right were LESS than 1/3 of those FLAGGED…the press should REPORT THAT!

    • sigrid28

      This was eventually reported in the press, and could be verified if you followed the first IRS hearings during Investigator General’s testimony. I listened to the testimony of aggrieved Tea Party applicants for tax exempt status, who cried and raged self-righteously, all the while acknowledging the primarily political goal of their organizations. The truth is that any one of them could carry on as if they were tax-exempt while their applications were under review. No one says that either in the evening news, cable or otherwise. These facts do not comprise sexy sound bites.

  • Michael Kollmorgen

    Hah!
    These groups are only the tip of a huge iceberg.

    If I had my way all charity groups, churchs, non-profits would have no non-profit tax statuses whatsoever.

    • neeceoooo

      I agree and the ones I would really look at are the churches, these structures that encompass 3 city blocks are seriously too big for their britches.

  • elw

    As a person who has decades of professional experience working with and sometimes for nonprofits that actually do provide services and work that greatly benefit the people in the community they are in, I think the greatest scandal of this whole IRS witch hunt is the harm it does to them. The majority of them are focused on the people or cause they serve and they have no time or energy left for politics. The food banks, low-cost/free counseling services, community medical clinics all provide vital services and help to people who would not get it otherwise. They work hard to coordinate their services with the other nonprofits, churches and County services to ensure that those in need get help. They would care less if the IRS outlawed all political activity for those with tax exempt status. Politics are not their goal and if the IRS did that you can bet they would get more donations that would honestly benefit their community.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      United Way is probably the biggest rip off of them all. The CEO makes around a mil and a half a year, has access to 6 limos and has his own Lear Jet, not to mention all the side perks.

      And, there are several other big league organization who fall along these lines as well, Unicef (wrong spelling), The Red Cross and others.

      The ONLY group that is worthy of support is the Salvation Army. The CEO doesn’t even own the home he is provided and earns a very low salary.

      And, as well, your local soup kitchens and food banks are worthy of support too.

      But, IF even a penny of any of their donations goes to any political cause, abolish their non-profit status too.

      I’d like to know in what capacity you serve professionally these organizations.

      • elw

        I will not and cannot defend the large scale nonprofits, I never give my money to them. I personally think they should all completely stay out of politics. I mostly worked with the smaller local nonprofits who were doing local work. Most times, their staffs earn very little money and were very dedicated to what they are doing. I have done many things for them, helping write reports, developing educational interventions for their clients and to apply for grant money. Sometimes I got paid other time no. At times it was part of my duties in a paid position with another organization to help them meet their goals for grants they had won. They help many people.

        • Michael Kollmorgen

          Good for you:)))

          I won’t give them money either. When I do support charity, its only for local causes and needs. Even then I am very watchful over what that cause might be. If it smells of politics, I tell em to go elsewhere.

          I support the Salvation Army “sometimes”.

          Who I do support a lot is local fundraisers for people in need for operations, help.

          What do you think about supporting St. Judes Hospital System? Just curious……

          • elw

            I personally would not give my money to large chain hospitals. I am not saying St. Judes does bad things, its just that they are more like a corporation (to me) with a large overhead, than a charity hospital. If you want to help people who need serious medical care like operations – I would call one or two of you local community medical clinics and ask them if there is fund for that that you can donate to. They are ones who see those with no other alternative for health care. The Salvation Army does help many people, even through it is basically a National organization.

          • Michael Kollmorgen

            Thanks for the advice:)

            I don’t know if this is true or not, but, I heard the doctors at St. Judes do not make any income from their services.

            Yes, the SA is a national organization. Though I understand penny for penny, they use more of their donations to help people than any other organization.

            Once every now and then, our fire fighter association will get a heads up on a family in need. We’ll hold a bakeoff, raffle, etc. and give all the proceeds to them. We’ll even bring in local bands and hold a barbecue for the family(s).

            I would NEVER pass up that food:)

          • elw

            Love when I hear stories about people with big hearts, it always reminds that there are many good peopel in this world.

  • Theodora30

    His disturbing that even a liberal like Hightower is buying into the right’s framing of this debate. The law does not allow ANY partisan activity, period. It clearly states that to qualify activities must be EXCLUSIVELY for social welfare. No exceptions. That the IRS has ignored both the letter and the spirit of the law for years is the real scandal and Dems should take over this debate by hammering this point over and over again. http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/05/23/exclusively-vs-primarily-irs-law-a-disaster-waiting-to-happen/

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