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IRS admits, apologizes for singling out conservative groups

Krazen1211 8,836 425 May 10, 2013 at 01:25 PM
Link [cnn.com]

Responding to a flurry of complaints from conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, the Internal Revenue Service admitted Friday it made "mistakes" in the last few years while trying to process those requests.

Multiple tea party groups reported significant delays and excessive questioning from IRS officials while trying to obtain 501(c)(4) status.

"I think it was without doubt wrong. We knew it was wrong in the beginning," he said. "They had no right, whatsoever,...no right to deny us tax exempt status that 501(c)(4) groups routinely received."




Interesting. When Obama For America became a 501c4, it took them a few days.

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#31
Quote from Gotchaforce View Post :
So the IRS comes out and says "sorry we profiled these organizations as a shortcut to our job [ensuring people are paying taxes properly]"... but your little conspiracy is that the IRS is lying, it was in fact an attempt by obama to strike a financial blow to tea party organizations???? (via an IRS led by a bush appointee??)

bwuh? LMAO

I guess its just too far fetched that the IRS would act on suspicions about tea party non profits, the same non profits who have admitted they have great disdain for the IRS and paying taxes. Its much much more than that.. yes what bulletproof logic.


The chumps at the NAACP and Media Matters, and of course Organizing for Action, all have 501c3 or 501c4 status.

Go figure.
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#32
Quote from Mike A. View Post :
None of which relates to advocating or practices which would suggest evading or not complying with tax requirements other than in the most stretched connection which you are attempting to make.
First of all, let's clarify that pursuit of such exemptions would be avoidance rather than evasion- hence the application.

Second, if you won't acknowledge that groups rallied around the idea that taxes are unjustly high might be more inclined to attempt avoidance or evasion of what is, in their view, unjust oppression, then you're denying basic human nature.

Quote from Mike A. View Post :
And again it doesn't relate to the nature of the scrutiny given in this case. It was not over them not paying their taxes. It was over their applications for tax-exempt status. So if you want to better focus your argument, then it should be around what about the nature of such groups might imply that they may not be eligible for or may be abusing that status to make extra scrutiny appropriate.
Of course it was over their application for tax exempt status.Confused

That's exactly what this issue is about- the IRS checking more deeply to see if the anti-tax people were legitimate applicants for tax exemption or whether they were simply trying to avoid taxes. That is to say, "are they playing within the rules for avoidance, or stretching too far?"


Quote from Mike A. View Post :
Short cuts as far as what? Sounds like you may not have read beyond the headlines on this one. What they are said to have done is to put more requirements on and more effort into looking at these groups. That's not a shortcut. It resulted in greater effort on both sides. It certainly wasn't a shortcut as far as identifying more generally political organizations which may be pushing 501(c)3 status. They could more easily select a representative group from that universe based on standard coded application data versus defining their own specific terms to target.
FYI, these are 501(c)4 applications. Not a huge difference in principle, but the criteria are different.

And it would not be a short cut for the approval process, but a shortcut for identifying applications for further review. See? The IRS drones weren't looking to speed up approval, but profiling to (in their minds) make the most of the limited resources available for heightened review.

You might think of it like an audit. There are random audits, but there are also targeted audits. How might one be selected for a targeted audit? Changing one's name to "Taxes are tyrannical oppression!" might cause a second look to see if this person took any extraordinary action to negate such oppression, and whether that action was allowed. Sure that's a silly example, but the point is that if an agency has knowledge about the philosophy of an applicant that goes beyond the random applicant, the human beings at the agency are likely to respond with more than random scrutiny.


Quote from Mike A. View Post :
If the issue was that they'd pulled a bunch of political 501(c)3's because of a belief that these groups were pushing the envelope of what's acceptable (which btw I personally think some on all sides are), and it included terms like "political action" and included a more broad range of such groups, then I might buy it. Given the specifics here, sorry, I don't.
Maybe they did scrutinize a number of PAC style groups? Either way, it's not irrational to identify and focus more attention on a subset of those groups that are organized around an opposition to taxation.

This profiling was probably more trouble than it was worth- particularly given that the applications were not denied- but the rationale was perfectly reasonable.
  • When a "motorcycle club" rolls into town, it's common sense for the LEOs to offer increased scrutiny? Why, because the group is known to have some strong opinions about social order that are incompatible with the LEO mission.
  • When the Blast Fishing Society of Wayne County applies for an explosives license, it would be common sense take a second look.
  • When self-avowed recreational MJ users apply for medical MJ card, it's common sense to take a second look to see if they are trying to game the system.
  • When the anti-tax groups apply for a tax exemption, it's common sense to take a second look to see if they are trying to game the system.
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Last edited by skiman May 12, 2013 at 04:48 PM
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#33
Quote from skiman View Post :
Second, if you won't acknowledge that groups rallied around the idea that taxes are unjustly high might be more inclined to attempt avoidance or evasion of what is, in their view, unjust oppression, then you're denying basic human nature.
IMHO very few people want to pay taxes. evasion of taxation is basically a sport in this country. I am willing to bet that a significant portion of the taxable people in this nation evade taxes is some way. examples are endless. anyone in the service industry..... tips are self reported (and basically everyone under reports). most people in the nanny/baby sitter business. we interviewed about 20 people to watch our kids and NONE wanted the earnings reported. most agreed if we paid enough to cover all taxes..... large numbers of "disabled" people work under the table.... point is, people don't like to pay taxes.... look at my links above and see how well congress, the white house, and federal workers are doing at paying taxes..... and then DMEOCRATS come along and are unwilling to back a plan that "forces" federal workers to pay taxes in full or simply have a plan with the IRS to pay back taxes. guess who opposed it? democrats, not tea baggers, not conservatives, nope.... democrats. so excuse me if I don't agree with you that those who oppose higher legal taxation are the ones that will EVADE taxes. I hate taxes yet pay every red cent as it is clear that the gov will hunt you down (unless you are one of them).
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guess what, I don't reply to you because you are on ignore!
#34
Quote from SigX View Post :
wow. if that is really your conclusion from what I posted.... sad.

lets try again, this time I will really spell it out for you, if needed I can have a grade schooler come by and help.

you said:

so I suggested they go after democrats in congress.............. you know cause they have a reputations for not paying taxes [latimes.com].

I hope that helps clear this up for you and please read the article before claiming the article is not about democrats in congress. perhaps the IRS should focus on its own back yard first [washingtonpost.com].

big shock that democrats block bills [washingtonexaminer.com]that make people pay taxes they actually owe. excellent hypocrisy. claim the high ground but block any laws that would push federal workers to actually pay the taxes..
I clicked on and skimmed over your first and third links.

First link reports that several of White House aids own millions of dollars in taxes. It does not say or imply that federal workers are more delinquent on their taxes than other sectors of the workforces as you imply in a later post.

Third link does not quite say that Dems blocked a bill that would force or require federal workers to pay their taxes. What the Dems blocked was a bill that required federal workers owing taxes and not paying them be fired. Why should federal workers be treated any harsher? Owed federal axes is a debt. We have a process for how to deal with people who do not pay their debts. Why should federal workers be treated any harsher than others? So you are a federal worker and down on your luck and have a lot of debts and cannot pay their taxes and top of that they should be fired so their children go hungry, be deprived of healthcare, or stay in shelters?
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#35
Quote from skiman View Post :
First of all, let's clarify that pursuit of such exemptions would be avoidance rather than evasion- hence the application.

Second, if you won't acknowledge that groups rallied around the idea that taxes are unjustly high might be more inclined to attempt avoidance or evasion of what is, in their view, unjust oppression, then you're denying basic human nature.

Of course it was over their application for tax exempt status.Confused

That's exactly what this issue is about- the IRS checking more deeply to see if the anti-tax people were legitimate applicants for tax exemption or whether they were simply trying to avoid taxes. That is to say, "are they playing within the rules for avoidance, or stretching too far?"
Again, you seem to be confusing opposing the effect of higher taxes which result from larger government/waste with tax avoidance/evasion in and of itself. Although they may exist, I've never heard any within the scope of what I'd consider "tea party" groups advocating tax avoidance/evasion/non-payment as some form of civil protest. There are some groups who do, but that's not what we're talking about here. Because, for example, I'm not happy that a large percentage of the taxes that I pay are wasted due to redundancy, inefficiency, and waste doesn't imply that I'm not going to pay them as you seem to be suggesting. Any more than a similar group organized to advocate against war and military spending might be suspect as possibly shorting their taxes in some proportion to account for not wanting to fund these activities.

Organizing a legal entity around an exempt status, while I suppose could be stretched to be within the definition of "tax avoidance" is entirely different than as typically might be a cause for particular IRS scrutiny. The only "avoidance" gained is related to the organization of the entity not to who or what they are/do, i.e., not necessarily even related to their stated goals, principles, etc. On that same basis, ANY organization seeking exempt status could be considered pursuing "tax avoidance" and merit the same attention.

Even in the case that you had an organization which was in fact directly advocating tax avoidance, there's no particular reason to scrutinize the application for exempt status as long as they meet whatever requirements to gain status. There are lots of groups which advocate much more directly, for tax reform, tax fairness, various specific tax issues, etc., which likewise could be considered "tax avoidance" and no reason to infer that they merit some extra scrutiny around their exempt status.

More to the primary point, most of the concern in such cases isn't around tax avoidance at all. It's more related to how the organization may be structured, independence, sources of funding, non-permitted activities, and things along those lines with respect to legal limitations for exempt status.


Quote :
FYI, these are 501(c)4 applications. Not a huge difference in principle, but the criteria are different.
Correct of course. Used to referring to them more generally as 501(c)3s. Started to correct it later but didn't.


Quote :
And it would not be a short cut for the approval process, but a shortcut for identifying applications for further review. See? The IRS drones weren't looking to speed up approval, but profiling to (in their minds) make the most of the limited resources available for heightened review....
Understood but that assumes that they need some additional means to shortcut the selection process on some basis other than random representative selection, specific technical disqualifications, prohibited associations and activities, etc. As above, a 501(c)4 advocating for tax reform (or "avoidance" if you like) is a perfectly acceptable and legitimate applicant. There's noting about that which should necessarily draw particular suspicion that they aren't following the rules with respect to their application for exempt status..

And if I understand correctly based on reporting that I've seen, targeting on such bases isn't supposed to be done "tea party" or otherwise.


Quote :
Maybe they did scrutinize a number of PAC style groups? Either way, it's not irrational to identify and focus more attention on a subset of those groups that are organized around an opposition to taxation...
Doesn't appear to be the case as reported and given the specific terms cited which is why it's a story.

And, as above, I disagree with what you seem to believe is some logical extension of the general area of interest/activity of a group and what it may do at some specific practical/legal level.

Again using absurd examples to highlight the distinction, on the same basis would you assume that it's reasonable to target a pro-choice group, even one with the key term "abortion" in its name, for some extra investigative scrutiny re possibly facilitating illegal late-term abortions? CAIR on the basis that it *might* have some association with Islamic terrorism?
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#36
And the scope expands:

Quote :
...six months later, the IRS applied a new political test to groups that applied for tax-exempt status as “social welfare” groups, the document says. On Jan. 15, 2012 the agency decided to target “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform movement.,” according to the appendix in the IG report, which was requested by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and has yet to be released.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blo...port-says/

Quote :
The Internal Revenue Service's scrutiny of conservative groups went beyond those with "tea party" or "patriot" in their names—as the agency admitted Friday—to also include ones worried about government spending, debt or taxes, and even ones that lobbied to "make America a better place to live," according to new details of a government probe.

The investigation also revealed that a high-ranking IRS official knew as early as mid-2011 that conservative groups were being inappropriately targeted—nearly a year before then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told a congressional committee the agency wasn't targeting conservative groups...

The details emerged from disclosures to congressional investigators by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The findings, which were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, don't make clear who came up with the idea to give extra scrutiny to the conservative groups...

The inspector general's office has been conducting an audit of the IRS's handling of the applications process and is expected to release a report this week. The audit follows complaints last year by numerous tea-party and other conservative groups that they had been singled out and subjected to excessive and inappropriate questioning. Many groups say they were asked for lists of their donors and other sensitive information.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1...TopStories

Not well vetted but also FWIW:

Quote :
For example, in 2010, the passionately pro-Israel organization Z STREET filed a lawsuit against the IRS, claiming it had been told by an IRS agent that because the organization was “connected to Israel,” its application for tax-exempt status would receive additional scrutiny. This admission was made in response to a query about the lengthy reveiw of Z STREET’s tax exempt status application...

And at least one purely religious Jewish organization, one not focused on Israel, was the recipient of bizarre and highly inappropriate questions about Israel. Those questions also came from the same non-profit division of the IRS at issue for inappropriately targeting politically conservative groups. The IRS required that Jewish organization to state “whether [it] supports the existence of the land of Israel,” and also demanded the organization “[d]escribe [its] religious belief system toward the land of Israel.”
http://www.jewishpress.com/news/i...013/05/11/
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#37
latest headlines on Drudge...looks like Benghazi wasn't enough of a scandal for Obama, now there's abuse of power by the IRS...


IRS Probe Expands To Groups Opposed To Gov't, Teaching Constitution... [washingtonpost.com]
Scrutiny Was Deeper Than Thought... [wsj.com]
UPDATE: IRS also targeted tax-exempt status of Jewish groups... [nationalreview.com]
'Absolutely chilling'... [foxnews.com]
House committee demands all communications by Wednesday... [cnsnews.com]Ways and Means to IRS: ‘Provide All Communications Containing Words ‘Tea Party,’ ‘Patriot,’ or ‘Conservative’—By Wednesday
Revelations 'will fuel government distrust'... [cnn.com]

Some of the info the IRS wanted: the list of every post on facebook (even though they can get that themselves just by browsing to the site), all communications, list of every donor, list of rally attendees, list of all members, list of all current and past board members AND THEIR FAMILIES, just to name a few....so on top of targeting groups that aren't supporters of their boss, they also asked for illegal information that they aren't supposed to be asking in the first place.
10 crazy things the IRS asked Tea Party groups [hotair.com]
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#38
Quote from TRNT View Post :
I clicked on and skimmed over your first and third links.

First link reports that several of White House aids own millions of dollars in taxes. It does not say or imply that federal workers are more delinquent on their taxes than other sectors of the workforces as you imply in a later post.
its highly unlikely that the average American owes as much money to the IRS as federal workers, particularly congress/white house. Did you read the link I replied too? the poster above was arguing it makes sense to go after people who politically feel taxes are too high.... as they are more likely to try and avoid/evade taxation. I am simply stating that there are far more obvious offenders that one could target. I never asked the gov to target anyone, I think it should be random (and possibly targeted to historic evasion) but never "political" as seen here.

Quote :
Third link does not quite say that Dems blocked a bill that would force or require federal workers to pay their taxes. What the Dems blocked was a bill that required federal workers owing taxes and not paying them be fired. Why should federal workers be treated any harsher? Owed federal axes is a debt. We have a process for how to deal with people who do not pay their debts. Why should federal workers be treated any harsher than others? So you are a federal worker and down on your luck and have a lot of debts and cannot pay their taxes and top of that they should be fired so their children go hungry, be deprived of healthcare, or stay in shelters?
what your saying is only half true. Yes they would be fired if they refused to pay (I guess that would land them in jail potentially as well). What the bill also did was require them to enter into a payment plan. does that strike you as being that onerous? that people be required to have a payment plan in place???? if anyone under that law was to go homeless it would be from sheer stupidity.

as for the notion of a higher standard.... people in some fields should be held to a higher standard than other fields.... this is nothing new.
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#39
Quote from Radeck View Post :
latest headlines on Drudge...looks like Benghazi wasn't enough of a scandal for Obama, now there's abuse of power by the IRS...


IRS Probe Expands To Groups Opposed To Gov't, Teaching Constitution... [washingtonpost.com]
Scrutiny Was Deeper Than Thought... [wsj.com]
UPDATE: IRS also targeted tax-exempt status of Jewish groups... [nationalreview.com]
'Absolutely chilling'... [foxnews.com]
House committee demands all communications by Wednesday... [cnsnews.com]Ways and Means to IRS: ‘Provide All Communications Containing Words ‘Tea Party,’ ‘Patriot,’ or ‘Conservative’—By Wednesday
Revelations 'will fuel government distrust'... [cnn.com]

Some of the info the IRS wanted: the list of every post on facebook (even though they can get that themselves just by browsing to the site), all communications, list of every donor, list of rally attendees, list of all members, list of all current and past board members AND THEIR FAMILIES, just to name a few....so on top of targeting groups that aren't supporters of their boss, they also asked for illegal information that they aren't supposed to be asking in the first place.
10 crazy things the IRS asked Tea Party groups [hotair.com]
radeck, is there any evidence that liberal have a problem trampling on the rights of conservatives? I see none.
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Quote from Radeck View Post :
so on top of targeting groups that aren't supporters of their boss, they also asked for illegal information that they aren't supposed to be asking in the first place.
10 crazy things the IRS asked Tea Party groups [hotair.com]
Are you saying the IRS came up with a form specifically for investigating TP chapters? I find that rather difficult to believe.

Also, it's worth adding that when you file for tax-free exemption, your status is backdated to the day filing regardless of how long it takes you to get approved. As long as they're legitimate, all it costs them is the extra time taken to fill out some forms.
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#41
IRS has always been just a lapdog for whoever the hell is in power
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#42
Quote from SigX View Post :
its highly unlikely that the average American owes as much money to the IRS as federal workers, particularly congress/white house. Did you read the link I replied too? the poster above was arguing it makes sense to go after people who politically feel taxes are too high.... as they are more likely to try and avoid/evade taxation. I am simply stating that there are far more obvious offenders that one could target. I never asked the gov to target anyone, I think it should be random (and possibly targeted to historic evasion) but never "political" as seen here.
You mean federal workers cumulatively and totally as a group owe more than average Americans or federal workers on average owe more taxes than the average American?

First, please realize this: you can divide "federal workers", as you have used the term, into three distinct categories:

1. Elected officials
2. Appointed officials and political appointees (such as WH chief of staff or FBI director)
3. Civil servants, like the guy in Congress who announced the arrival of guests, NIH, EPA, FAA employees

Now, I am not sure if an average civil servant owes more taxes than an average American in the same salary bracket. In fact I would guess less because a lot of businessmen and self employed cheat a lot on their taxes. (Yes cheating and owing are different but I say cheating is more damaging/serious.)

BTW: I will not object to watching the first two groups more than we watch average Americans, if that is the crux of your position.

Quote from SigX View Post :
what your saying is only half true. Yes they would be fired if they refused to pay (I guess that would land them in jail potentially as well). What the bill also did was require them to enter into a payment plan. does that strike you as being that onerous? that people be required to have a payment plan in place???? if anyone under that law was to go homeless it would be from sheer stupidity.
Please tell me why we should treat civil servants (cat #3 above) any harsher than average American?

Quote from SigX View Post :
as for the notion of a higher standard.... people in some fields should be held to a higher standard than other fields.... this is nothing new.
Absolutely. Start with waiters and self employed.

Somewhat tangent: Up until a few years ago I would try to pay waiters cash (wink, wink). Also when using a street parking ticket that still had time on it, I would offer it to the next person. But all these anti-gov rhetoric that I have heard from those on the right has changed my mind in the respect. Why should I give my ticket to another so that they pay less to the gov?
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#43
Quote from TRNT View Post :
You mean federal workers cumulatively and totally as a group owe more than average Americans or federal workers on average owe more taxes than the average American?

First, please realize this: you can divide "federal workers", as you have used the term, into three distinct categories:

1. Elected officials
2. Appointed officials and political appointees (such as WH chief of staff or FBI director)
3. Civil servants, like the guy in Congress who announced the arrival of guests, NIH, EPA, FAA employees

Now, I am not sure if an average civil servant owes more taxes than an average American in the same salary bracket. In fact I would guess less because a lot of businessmen and self employed cheat a lot on their taxes. (Yes cheating and owing are different but I say cheating is more damaging/serious.)

BTW: I will not object to watching the first two groups more than we watch average Americans, if that is the crux of your position.
it is.



Quote :
Please tell me why we should treat civil servants (cat #3 above) any harsher than average American?
this is a smaller issue and not the thrust of my argument. I see your point but at the same time feel that a gov worker should be held to a higher standard than the guy flipping burgers at McDs.


Quote :
Absolutely. Start with waiters and self employed.
not a lot of bang for yoir buck there (waiters) even though I suspect 99% do cheat on taxes. as for self employed. I have no problem with keeping a watchful eye on them as long as it is fair (not political).

Quote :
Somewhat tangent: Up until a few years ago I would try to pay waiters cash (wink, wink). Also when using a street parking ticket that still had time on it, I would offer it to the next person. But all these anti-gov rhetoric that I have heard from those on the right has changed my mind in the respect. Why should I give my ticket to another so that they pay less to the gov?
personal choice I guess. like I said, nobody likes to pay taxes. maybe some high profile multi billionaires looking for some good PR will do it with a smile but 99% are happy avoid it when possible.
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#44
Quote from SigX View Post :
personal choice I guess. like I said, nobody likes to pay taxes. maybe some high profile multi billionaires looking for some good PR will do it with a smile but 99% are happy avoid it when possible.
Yes, I agree.

There is an interesting human behavior going on here. 90+% of drivers stooped and ticketed for speeding would either deny their guilt or would be in favor of the police letting them go. But if a referendum is taken on whether or not we should abolish speeding laws, 90+% would vote to keep them, IMO.

Lastly I get your point that most people dread paying taxes. I do. That is why even though I am usually OK with increasing taxes, and I think my taxes should be increased, I would not send extra money and I am no hypocrite either. Wink) I think 90+% of those who pretend they are patriotic and happy to pay taxes are just blowing smoke and full of it. Smilie
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#45
Quote from TRNT View Post :
Yes, I agree.

There is an interesting human behavior going on here. 90+% of drivers stooped and ticketed for speeding would either deny their guilt or would be in favor of the police letting them go. But if a referendum is taken on whether or not we should abolish speeding laws, 90+% would vote to keep them, IMO.

Lastly I get your point that most people dread paying taxes. I do. That is why even though I am usually OK with increasing taxes, and I think my taxes should be increased, I would not send extra money and I am no hypocrite either. Wink) I think 90+% of those who pretend they are patriotic and happy to pay taxes are just blowing smoke and full of it. Smilie
So I assume your logic behind supporting increased taxes is, "Let's just raise taxes to cover our current spending, they will then get their house in order and we can move forward without deficit spending (or more tax increases)". Am I correct? Need I go over the folly of this argument?
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