You want to know why the IRS felt the need to come up with a way to better scrutinize groups claiming to be primarily or exclusively social welfare outfits, the thing that began this entire ‘targeting scandal’ after a now-debunked inspector general report made it seem as though only conservative groups received extra scrutiny?
ProPublica, a non-profit news gathering site founded by investigative journalists, did a lot of digging into the issue many months ago. Its reporting detailed why the IRS needed to do what it eventually tried to do, after many years of allowing plenty of political groups to openly masquerade as social welfare organizations.
In other words, before this supposed scandal, taxpayer watchdog and advocacy groups had been complaining that the IRS wasn’t doing enough to stop political groups from claiming a tax exempt status that provided them with taxpayer-funded subsidies they legally should not have been receiving. But when the IRS finally began to crack down, political groups complained and GOP House members responded with the current so-called scandal – which is shielding these political groups from accountability.
In case you missed their findings, I wanted to link to it today as a refresher.
From the ProPublica piece:
… When groups apply to the IRS for recognition as tax-exempt, they must spell out their plans. They also must swear under penalty of perjury that they believe what they say is true.
Politics is one litmus test the agency uses to determine whether a group has a legitimate social welfare purpose and warrants a tax exemption, experts say. Question 15 on the application asks, "Has the organization spent or does it plan to spend any money attempting to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any person to any Federal, state, or local public office or to an office in a political organization?"
ProPublica compared applications from 72 501(c)(4)s with tax returns they filed later. We found 32 groups that initially said "no" to politics then filed tax returns showing they had done the opposite.
Even before mailing its application to the IRS saying it would not spend money on elections, the Alliance for America's Future was running TV ads supporting Republican candidates for governor in Nevada and Florida. It also had given $133,000 to two political committees directed by Mary Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president. No one from the Alliance for America's Future returned calls for comment.