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Tax Reform Commission Seeks Tax-Exempt Status

Politics: Group says its purpose is educational. Some Democrats disagree.

February 14, 1996|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A Republican-appointed tax group--the one pushing a single-rate system with few deductions--wants the IRS to give it tax-exempt status so its contributors can write off their donations.

The foundation set up to finance the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform has asked the Internal Revenue Service to classify it as a Section 501(c)(3) organization.

That would allow contributors to deduct donations to it from their income the same way people who who donate to charities can.

In its report last month, the commission called for a simpler tax system, but it did not recommend eliminating charitable deductions "at a time when America needs a renaissance of private giving."

Two senior House Democrats argue that the tax break for charities was not intended for politically oriented groups such as the commission, headed by Jack Kemp.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) created the commission last April. At the time, Dole was preparing to run for president and Gingrich was contemplating running. Kemp, a former GOP representative from New York and former secretary of housing in the Bush administration, had already decided not to run.

The commission's members include Republicans such as former governors Pierre "Pete" du Pont of Delaware and Carroll Campbell of South Carolina, and Shirley D. Peterson, IRS commissioner during the Bush administration.

Grace-Marie Arnett, executive director of the commission, now working in Steve Forbes' presidential campaign, said the panel's purpose is educational, not political. She said it conducted a study that it has offered to the public and that the group solicited views from a wide range of people. The IRS has not yet ruled on the commission's request.

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