At least that's Ezra Klein says about the latest news-cycle problem of one IRS office "selective auditing" only certain "501(c)4s."
The IRS was wrong to target the tea party. They should’ve gone after all 501(c)4s.
by Ezra Klein, washingtonpost.com -- May 10, 2013
The problem wasn’t that the IRS was skeptical of tea party groups registering as 501(c)4s. It’s that it hasn’t been skeptical of Organizing for America, Crossroads GPS, Priorities USA and Heritage Action Fund registering as 501(c)4s. The IRS should be treating all these groups equally and appropriately -- which would mean much more harshly.
The IRS has a responsibility to find the tax cheats, in whatever form they might take; No matter their political affiliations.
If you owe taxes -- well, you owe taxes. That's kind of the IRS's job: To verify that simple Fact.
Well Ezra Klein goes on to explain that 501(c)4s are supposed to have the primary purpose of promoting the "general welfare" of society as a whole -- in order to gain their Tax Exempt status. That such organizations are supposed to be primarily "socially-oriented" -- NOT "politically-oriented" -- in order to escape their tax-payer responsibilities.
Social welfare organizations have a couple of neat advantages. They’re tax-exempt -- which means, in effect, that your tax dollars subsidize them. And thanks to a 1958 court case, they don’t have to disclose their donors.
But they’re not meant to be political. A 2003 IRS document says that “organizations that promote social welfare should primarily promote the common good and general welfare of the people of the community as a whole.” It goes on to give pages and pages of examples. “A corporation organized for the purpose of rehabilitating and placing unemployed persons over a stated age,” for instance. Or “a corporation formed to provide a school district with a stadium.” “A memorial association organized to study and develop methods of achieving simplicity and dignity in funeral and memorial services,” qualifies, as does “an organization that conducts an annual festival centered around regional customs and traditions.”
SO, primarily "politically-oriented" organizations have a lot to be "verified" for -- IF they want to go Tax-Free.
The problem is not that the IRS challenged the Tea Party-affiliated 501(c)4s groups -- the problem is that the IRS (in this one office) DID NOT challenge them ALL.
"General Welfare" is heralded in the Constitution as a primary goal of the Nation. I would suspect that 501(c)4s did not even get an "honorable mention" given the sparsity of corporate-entities looking for Tax-amnesty, back in the day. Back then promoting the "General Welfare" was designed around people, not politics, in stark contrast to how our nation now spins today.