June 1, 2013
Glenn Hubbard and Tim Kane were wrong to say in their Op-Ed article Wednesday that the IRS' targeting of unorthodox political groups chills free speech, wrote reader Harrison Stephenson in a letter to the editor. He said: "The dismal task of the IRS was to determine if groups applying for tax exemption as 'social welfare' organizations were really political groups, which do not qualify under the fuzzy wording of the tax code. Certainly the words 'tea party' and 'patriot' would suggest groups applying for tax-exempt status under these names are likely to be principally political.
May 17, 2013
Re "501(c)(4)s are the real IRS scandal," Column, May 15 Michael Hiltzik is right. The IRS should put every tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organization under a microscope. Vague tax rules, the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and the absurd cost of political campaigns create a perfect storm of opportunity for would-be kingmakers. Being partisan myself, when I saw that key words being used to flag suspect organizations included "tea party" and "patriot," I thought, "Well, yes, and the problem is?"
May 16, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - In spring 2010, agents in the Cincinnati office of the Internal Revenue Service, which handles applications for tax-exempt status, faced a surge of filings by new advocacy groups, with little guidance on how to treat them. Their decision to deal with the problem by singling out tea party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny has now triggered a criminal inquiry, congressional investigations, the departure of two top IRS officials and the naming of a new acting commissioner Thursday.
May 14, 2013 |
It's strange how "scandal" gets defined these days in Washington. At the moment, everyone is screaming about the "scandal" of the Internal Revenue Service scrutinizing conservative nonprofits before granting them tax-exempt status. Here are the genuine scandals in this affair: Political organizations are being allowed to masquerade as charities to avoid taxes and keep their donors secret, and the IRS has allowed them to do this for years. The bottom line first: The IRS hasn't done nearly enough over the years to rein in the subversion of the tax law by political groups claiming a tax exemption that is not legally permitted for campaign activity.
October 2, 2012 |
Who's the most influential billionaire business figure in national politics? If you answered one of the Koch brothers (Charles or David) or George Soros, you're wearing your partisan blinders. The former are known for their devotion to conservative causes, the latter to liberal. In either case, you're wrong. The most influential billionaire in America is Peter G. Peterson. The son of Greek immigrants, Peterson, 86, served as Commerce secretary under President Nixon, then became chairman and chief executive of Lehman Bros.
July 23, 2012 |
After more than a year of needling the Internal Revenue Service to tighten standards for election spending by nonprofit groups, advocates for campaign finance reform may have finally provoked the agency to make a change. Crossroads GPS on the Republican side, Priorities USA on the Democratic side and other, similar, groups have taken advantage of a provision of the tax code that allows them to shield the names of their donors from public view. The provision, Sec. 501(c)4 of the code, was originally written for groups whose purpose is to promote social welfare, including local cultural preservation committees or community associations, but because of the anonymity it allows, it has become the favored way to set up entities that seek to influence elections.