May 14, 2013
One of the great outrages of the Watergate scandal was President Nixon's use of the Internal Revenue Service to harass his political opponents. Yet some IRS officials appear to have forgotten what happens when tax law enforcers pick their targets based on their politics. A forthcoming report from the agency's inspector general is expected to describe how IRS employees inappropriately scrutinized grass-roots conservative groups that were seeking tax-exempt status. If that happened, it's unacceptable, and Congress should find out what involvement, if any, the Obama administration had in the abuses.
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.
May 2, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Early last month, state lawyers and election officials around the country dialed into a conference call to talk about how to deal with the flood of secret money that played an unprecedented role in the 2012 election. The discussion, which included officials from California, New York, Alaska and Maine, was a first step toward a collaborative effort to force tax-exempt advocacy organizations and trade associations out of the shadows. The unusual initiative was driven by the lack of progress at the federal level in pushing those groups to disclose their contributors if they engage in campaigns, as candidates and political action committees are required to do. "There is no question that one of the reasons to have states working together is because the federal government, in numerous arenas, has failed to take action," said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of California's Fair Political Practices Commission, who organized the call with officials from about 10 states.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 17, 2013 |
Private, tax-exempt hospitals spent an average of 7.5% of their operating expenses on community benefits in 2009, according to a new study that raises questions about whether the amount is enough. Overall, the study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine showed hospitals "varied widely" in the level of "community benefits" they provided, ranging from 20% of the operating budget at some to 1% at others. They concluded that most of the expenditures benefited patient care while "little was spent on community health improvement.
April 12, 2013 |
The Boy Scouts' long-standing refusal to admit gay members is deplorable and offensive. But it's also legal. Just because we - or California legislators - might disagree with the discriminatory path the Boy Scouts has taken doesn't mean the organization should be singled out from other nonprofits to lose its tax-exempt status. A bill that passed a state Senate committee this week would do just that. Under SB 323, , carried by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), the Boy Scouts of America (though unnamed in the bill)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 11, 2013 |
SACRAMENTO - Some California lawmakers seeking to pressure the Boy Scouts of America to abandon its ban on openly gay members are taking a novel approach: They are threatening to strip the organization of its state tax exemption. The proposal, which cleared a legislative hurdle Wednesday, once again puts California at the center of a national debate on gay rights, and it could put the state on a collision course with the IRS if passed. The legislation would revoke the exemption from state taxes for any nonprofit that excludes members by sexual orientation, gender identity or religious affiliation.