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Outraged over IRS snooping scandal? Readers aren't

May 14, 2013|By Paul Thornton
  • The IRS is under fire for giving extra scrutiny to applications for tax-exempt status from grass-roots conservative groups. Above, "tea party" demonstrators last June in Newport Beach.
The IRS is under fire for giving extra scrutiny to applications for tax-exempt… (Katie Falkenberg / For The…)

If the hand-wringing over revelations that the IRS gave additional scrutiny to "tea party" groups and other conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status is as widespread as the coverage makes it seem, that anger hasn't spread to a place where outrage normally lives: The Times' mailbag.

More than a dozen readers -- an unusually low count for such a made-for-indignation topic -- have sent their thoughts on the IRS scandal to letters@latimes.com. Most of the reaction can be described as a collective shrug; some declare that no political groups (liberal ones included) deserve any favorable tax treatment by the IRS. The two letters that do express outrage direct it more broadly at the IRS as an institution. 

Here is a selection of those letters.

Gary Davis of Los Angeles says we're focused on the wrong scandal:

"The investigation into possible IRS excesses in enforcing the 'no political advocacy' rules for nonprofit groups misses the point. 

"If 'tea party' or 'Occupy' groups are using more than 'an insubstantial amount' of their money to influence elections, then they aren't eligible for nonprofit status and their donors aren't eligible for the lavish tax write-offs they take for their contributions. 

"I've never heard of a tea party organization doing anything other than political advocacy, so the fact that 75 of them were ultimately given tax-exempt status is the real scandal."

Richard Greene of San Clemente doubts the tea party's social-welfare cred:

"The IRS has not done enough to investigate the tax-exempt claims of groups that exist for the purpose of political action. The burden of proof belongs on the claimants to show that their purpose is primarily social welfare.

"These groups should not have donor anonymity, and they should definitely not be tax exempt."

Thousand Oaks resident Rodney K. Boswell says Republicans should spread their anger more evenly:

"There is no question that the IRS violated a code of conduct when targeting conservative groups. However, I just wish that Republicans would be so outraged by their own partisan conduct when it came to the newly elected president in 2008. 

"As we know, Republicans have conspired since the moment of President Obama's first inauguration to block his agenda at every turn. Indeed, the Senate minority leader's stated goal was to make Obama a one-term president.  

"The only ones who truly suffer from this type of behavior are the people of this great nation."

Rob Shanahan makes a similar tit-for-tat point:

"Regarding the news that the IRS targeted conservative groups, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell states that 'this kind of political thuggery has absolutely no place in our politics.' This, coming from the man who declared early in Obama's first term that his job was to make sure the president served only one term, a statement that reeked of thuggery.

"Hypocrisy rears its ugly head in the Republican Party once again."

Allen F. Dziuk of Carlsbad speaks (sarcastically) of the tea party's inconspicuousness:

"Why would the IRS ever think about investigating the tax-exempt status of a group of U.S. citizens gathering on a street corner, some of whom have rifles slung over their shoulders, while delivering anti-government speeches?

"They are displaying the American flag, after all, and are not violating any of our God-given rights as freedom-loving citizens."

Upland resident Kim Righetti says this is more of the same for the IRS:

"The revelation that the IRS targeted certain political groups comes as little surprise. My family was targeted for an audit that lasted three years. The stomach-churning experience would have made for a good reality show.

"The IRS tactics continue because they are allowed to. Although several members of Congress have protested the IRS' actions, nobody has enacted any decisive legislative measures to control this agency.

"So continues the saga."

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