Skip to main content

Screen grab from the official IRS site.
Let me try to answer all of this in one place, because it's getting asked a lot.

First off: review this chart prepared by the Alliance for Justice. Learn it, memorize it, love it. It breaks down the entities by what kinds of advocacy each can do.

Short version: a 501(c)(3) is a non-profit for religious, charitable, or educational purposes. They are limited in terms of the amount of lobbying and advocacy they can do, and cannot touch elections. But donations are tax-deductible. This category includes institutions like the Red Cross, but also includes entities like The Heritage Foundation—which focuses on research and education on public policies, but doesn't do any lobbying on behalf of particular legislation and does no work to elect people to enact said policies. (It has an affiliated 501(c)(4), Heritage Action for America, for its lobbying work.)

A 501(c)(4) is a "social welfare" organization. It can do more than a (c)(3) in terms of advocacy, but donations to them are not tax-deductible. However, as with (c)(3)s, individual donors are not publicly disclosed. The current IRS scandal regards 501(c)(4) organizations. As they explain, their definition of "social welfare" is broader than yours:

To be operated exclusively to promote social welfare, an organization must operate primarily to further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community (such as by bringing about civic betterment and social improvements). For example, an organization that restricts the use of its facilities to employees of selected corporations and their guests is primarily benefiting a private group rather than the community and, therefore, does not qualify as a section 501(c)(4) organization. Similarly, an organization formed to represent member-tenants of an apartment complex does not qualify, because its activities benefit the member-tenants and not all tenants in the community, while an organization formed to promote the legal rights of all tenants in a particular community may qualify under section 501(c)(4) as a social welfare organization. An organization is not operated primarily for the promotion of social welfare if its primary activity is operating a social club for the benefit, pleasure or recreation of its members, or is carrying on a business with the general public in a manner similar to organizations operated for profit link].

Seeking legislation germane to the organization's programs is a permissible means of attaining social welfare purposes. Thus, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may further its exempt purposes through lobbying as its primary activity without jeopardizing its exempt status. An organization that has lost its section 501(c)(3) status due to substantial attempts to influence legislation may not thereafter qualify as a section 501(c)(4) organization. In addition, a section 501(c)(4) organization that engages in lobbying may be required to either provide notice to its members regarding the percentage of dues paid that are applicable to lobbying activities or pay a proxy tax. For more information, see Lobbying Issues.

The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity. However, any expenditure it makes for political activities may be subject to tax under section 527(f). For further information regarding political and lobbying activities of section 501(c) organizations, see Election Year Issues, Political Campaign and Lobbying Activities of IRC 501(c)(4), (c)(5), and (c)(6) Organizations, and Revenue Ruling 2004-6.

Follow below the fold for a breakdown of all that.

  • "Social welfare" does not only mean things like feeding the homeless and saving the whales, and a 501(c)(4) can be completely ideological. Ideological is not the same as "political" in this context—it's the difference between "I support lower taxes" and "Vote for Rep. [X], because she supports lower taxes," or "Obama's policies are bad" versus "So don't vote for him."
  • Before Citizens United, corporations could not engage in pro-federal candidate independent speech. Now they can, and that includes 501(c)(4) corporations. That's why applications rose dramatically in 2010.
  • So what does the "primary purpose" test mean? No one's sure if that allows for a 51 percent/49 percent split between policy advocacy and electioneering work, requires more on the non-election side than that, or what. Some Democrats have asked the IRS to create a bright-line rule, as have others, but for now that remains up in the air.
  • This WonkBlog piece is a good explainer of how the IRS vetting process is supposed to work, and what happened here.
  • So as long as the Tea Party groups in question stated that their primary mission was promoting limited government, etc., then 501(c)(4) status would be warranted. There has been some interesting analysis as to whether heightened scrutiny was warranted, but it clearly was not given to similar progressive groups either in terms of level of review or pace of review.
A few other things worth noting:

First, a single umbrella organization can have multiple types of entities under it. For example, Planned Parenthood and the National Rifle Association each have a (c)(3) arm (research, education), a (c)(4) "action fund" arm (public advocacy), and a PAC (candidate support). There's a fantastic Alliance for Justice guide on how these wings can and can't coordinate.

So, for example, a 501(c)(4) can have an affiliated PAC or Super PAC. (See, e.g., the Priorities USA (c)(4), and Priorities USA Action Super PAC in 2012.) If it's a federal PAC, it can make direct contributions to candidates but has to derive money separately from individual donors, not the (c)(4) itself (because it's a corporation). If it's a Super PAC, then you can move unlimited funds (except as to the limits of the primary purpose test) directly from the (c)(4) to the Super PAC and use it to make independent expenditure ads on behalf of candidates, so long as it never coordinates with the candidates, and while the Super PAC has to disclose its contributors it need not disclose the underlying sources of who gave to the (c)(4) which gave to the Super PAC. (And that's what "dark money" is all about.)

A hybrid PAC, while we're on the topic, is a single entity combining a federal PAC (direct contributions to candidates, from limited sources) with a Super PAC (unlimited IEs, unlimited sources) in one entity with a single set of FEC filings. Totally legal.

Any questions?  I've tried to focus this on (c)(4)s generally, and not so much the particulars of this situation.

Originally posted to Adam B on Thu May 16, 2013 at 11:54 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent, thanks. (19+ / 0-)

    Before all this came up, I'd been meaning to suggest you do something similar regarding what activities do or do not threaten the tax exempt status of churches. I've linked to the IRS publication on it a few times, but there's widespread misunderstanding and it would be nice to have something more authoritative around here than the IRS, like a diary from you. I wasn't going to suggest it until after SCOTUS opinion season, but if you're keeping a wish list, that might be a good companion piece.  

  •  Most helpful (11+ / 0-)

    Excellent overivew, with the excellence enhanced by the useful and informative links.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Thu May 16, 2013 at 12:21:17 PM PDT

  •  Crucial to keep repeating this stuff (16+ / 0-)

    to hammer on the theme that the IRS was absolutely entitled -- indeed, required -- to investigate organizations applying for c(3) or c(4) status that looked awfully much like 100% political advocacy groups. That's not preventing those groups from existing, or shutting them down. It is making them prove that they are genuinely entitled to the privilege of not being treated like a political advocacy group.

    I can't link to it (behind the pay wall), but there was an editorial in today's Providence (RI) Journal, not generally very progressive, making this point -- that the IRS was doing its job, and that the issue of whether they made mistakes in how they did it doesn't mean it wasn't a legitimate inquiry.

    •  The problem is that their profiling ... (9+ / 0-)

      ... was both over- and under-inclusive.  It did not take a rocket science to spot the parallel entities being formed on our side.

      •  To me, the most telling problem comes from the (0+ / 0-)

        IRS claim that none -- exactly none -- of the 75 profiled groups to which they admit were denied tax-exempt status.

        The criteria had a predictive value of exactly zero.

        Try using tests like that in an employment context, and you'll be rightfully sued up the ass if your employee mix contains disproportionate ratios of men to women, whites to minorities, etc.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Thu May 16, 2013 at 07:25:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  from nate silver (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        akmk, viget, janmtairy
        As a point of comparison, we tried to identify liberal groups approved for 501(c)(4) status since 2010. A search for “progress,” “progressive,” “liberal” and “equality” finds 32 groups. (This might not be a representative sample — identifying left-leaning groups is more difficult, as there are is no clearly defined nomenclature on the left equivalent to the Tea Party.)
        nate silver

        Many of the ones including 'equality' could very well be marriage equality organizations which while certainly our side I don't think qualify as parallel organizations.  So if Nate Silver thinks it is hard to identify the left counterparts, I'm not sure I'd want to disagree with him.

    •  Just for starters, ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the IRS went WAY over the line when it demanded that donors be identified.

      "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

      by Neuroptimalian on Thu May 16, 2013 at 01:33:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or not (3+ / 0-)

        From the Wonkblog piece:

        Schmalbeck, the Duke law professor, says that an IRS question about donors might, in theory, be legitimate. “It’s potentially relevant,” he says. “If your donors consist exclusively of other political organizations, then that raises a sense that you are more likely to be a political organization that involved in promoting social welfare.”

        However, adds Schmalbeck, a big potential problem here is that all of the IRS questions and answers are supposed to be made publicly available once the organization is approved. The law is vague on whether organizations who go through this process could ask to keep their list of donors secret. And yet part of the point of 501(c)(4)s is that they’re supposed to allow donors to stay anonymous. (The IG report states that, according to IRS officials, donor information “was later destroyed.”)

        “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

        by Catte Nappe on Thu May 16, 2013 at 01:40:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Are any of your donors ... (7+ / 0-)

          ... political parties, political committees, or otherwise regulated as political entities?"

          •  That does nothing to tell what % (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            of them and/or the % of money coming in from them was political...

            And, if they asked questions that cover the above (what % of your donors are political parties, political committees, or otherwise regulated as political entities?), because you never have to disclose later... why not just lie your arse off?

            Harder, when your attempts to dilute the apparent influence of a single big $1M political donor by, say, having 100 $5 donors, and declaring "less than 1% off all donations were made by political etc" require that you have to name names that they could check with/the finances of.

            What gets me is that I'm confident 99% of these were utterly full of crap... no one is holding constitution education classes in the local rec center... and "Obama's policies are bad" advertising really doesn't need the implicit "so don't vote for him" tacked on the end to convey exactly that message... but even that aside it frees up political campaigns from having to do that advertising... oh, but they can't coordinate and so might waste money doubling up on an issue... excuse me...

            gales of laughter

            ...sorry, I'm back, was just remembering this:

            But Stewart had questions, too. Could he run ads attacking Colbert's opponents? As long as they didn't coordinate, the answer was yes. He wondered about staff that was connected to Colbert already. "Can I legally hire Stephen's current superPAC staff to produce those ads that will in no way be coordinated with Stephen?" "Yes," Potter told him.
            I think that's all I need to do to establish my point here.

   back to what gets me: That none of them ended up being called on their bullshit. Oh, the criteria for extra scrutiny was certainly valid, very predictive according to the IG report... but that was where it stopped!

            •  You're wrong on a few things. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              nextstep, nargel

              1. Donors have to be disclosed to the IRS; just not publicly.
              2. The IRS hasn't rejected any of these applications. They were hardly 99% bad.

              •  Err.... (0+ / 0-)
                 Just for starters, ... (0+ / 0-)

                the IRS went WAY over the line when it demanded that donors be identified.

                 Or not (3+ / 0-)

                From the Wonkblog piece:

                "Are any of your donors ... (7+ / 0-)

                ... political parties, political committees, or otherwise regulated as political entities?"

                Register now for Netroots Nation in Silicon Valley - June 20-23, 2013

                by Adam B on Thu May 16, 2013 at 01:41:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent | Reply to This | Recommend ]

                This chain of posts makes NO SENSE in relation to your reply to me.

                The first post claims a line has been crossed.
                The second contends it has not, and why.
                The third is you appearing to provide a means to satisfy the second while not committing the overstep alleged in the first...

                ...but that relies on NOT disclosing donors to the IRS... which you then claim they have to anyway... so what's wrong with the IRS asking for information that they're required to be given anyway (before approving the application, not after the bull is through the gate)?

                Is it that, as part of the application process, the information would end up public? Well, first, boohoo. Second, it means it's that bit that would require changing here to satisfy some... not that the IRS overstepped anything.

                As to the second point... you confuse two concepts "IRS hasn't rejected" "hardly 99% bad" as mutually exclusive. It's possible for them to have been bad AND for the IRS to not have rejected them. In fact, that was my contention regarding "what gets me"... I didn't think I made it subtle or confusing. I really have little to no belief that the vast majority of "tea party" identifiable 501c4 submitted post CU are anything but ways to conceal donors for spending for/against candidates in the ludicrously described "non coordinated" manner outlined by Messrs Colbert, Stewart & Potter.

                In short, the real scandal is not that so many were flagged for extra scrutiny (due to keywords that were political, but despite that they were, in and of themselves political, let alone of a care as to which affiliation)... but that so many ended up passing! (perhaps because of a fear of the optics of, I don't know, calling out a bunch of fouls that turned out to be being committed almost exclusively by one political affiliation...)

                I'd say if Crossroads ends up passing it will be game set & match for my position on this...

                ...but you know what? They got to do their damage anyway.

                They and their already exempted ilk at a rate 34 times that of groups identifiable as liberal:


                Please note, that rate DOESN'T include crossroads.

  •  Colbert and Trevor Potter... (8+ / 0-)

    ...illustrated the PAC-to-SuperPAC money-laundering scheme (my characterization) in their very informative, and very public, skewering of the whole dark-money charade.

    Adam, your explanation isn't quite as funny as theirs, but it's definitely more authoritative.

    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. -- K.Marx A.Lincoln

    by N in Seattle on Thu May 16, 2013 at 01:04:53 PM PDT

  •  What is the difference between... (7+ / 0-)

    "heightened scrutiny" and "profiling"?
    The GOP seems love profiling of Muslims for possible terrorist activities, but hate heightened scrutiny of Tea Baggers for possible illegal political activities.
    If your job at the IRS is to make sure that those using, or seeking 501(c)(4) status, are using it legally, wouldn't you "profile" those you are watching over?
    I'm not convinced the profiling was "Republican" in nature, but had more to do with anything that sounded political in nature. If the majority of applications for 501(c)(4) status were from right leaning political groups, it would make sense that they would get the most scrutiny...profiling.

    And they scream... The worst things in life come free to us... Cause we're just under the upper hand... And go mad for a couple grams.

    by glb3 on Thu May 16, 2013 at 02:37:09 PM PDT

  •  Primary purpose test (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B, johnny wurster

    I'm surprised that there is much question regarding how to determine the primary purpose of a group, since there are many other areas of the IRC that use a primary purpose test (as opposed to, say, a principal purpose test).

    "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

    by Old Left Good Left on Thu May 16, 2013 at 04:15:21 PM PDT

  •  Data point (5+ / 0-)

    The diary states:

    Before Citizens United, corporations could not engage in pro-federal candidate independent speech. Now they can, and that includes 501(c)(4) corporations. That's why applications rose dramatically in 2010.
    Council of Philanthropy has an interesting observation:
    Both Steven Miller, the agency’s acting commissioner until he stepped down Wednesday, and Lois Lerner, director of the agency’s exempt-organization division, have said over the past week that IRS officials started the scrutiny after observing a surge in applications for status as 501(c)(4) “social welfare” groups. Both officials cited an increase from about 1,500 applications in 2010 and to nearly 3,500 in 2012. President Obama ask Mr. Miller to resign on Wednesday.

    The scrutiny began, however, in March 2010, before an uptick could have been observed, according to data contained in the audit released Tuesday from the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration.

    The number of 501(c)(4) applications for all of 2010 was actually less than in 2009.

    . . .

    The audit says the IRS began to use “inappropriate criteria” to single out applications in March 2010. By April 2010, a “sensitive case report” was issued on “Tea Party cases,” indicating that managers in Cincinnati were aware of the sensitive nature of the reviews.

    According to the audit, 1,735 groups applied for 501(c)(4) exemption for the federal fiscal year that ended September 30, 2010—six months after the IRS began its scrutiny. That was down slightly from 1,751 the prior year.

  •  My Take (0+ / 0-)

    Our political system is broken.  Citizens United needs to be tossed out.  We need public financing of elections and better public access to issues and debates.  Gerrymandering of congressional districts should be outlawed.  If the assessment of whether an organization fits into one or the other bucket is so complex there is something wrong.  

    As usual Bernie says it better than I can:

    The news media in Washington, D.C., was focused on a scandal at the IRS, the Justice Department’s seizure of Associated Press phone records and the Obama administration’s editing of talking points about the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders said, “the media may not be all that concerned about little things like the collapse of the American middle class.” He argued that the press should pay attention to what he called  “a new normal” in America where real unemployment was almost 14 percent in April, median income has fallen since the economic collapse in 2008 and poverty is near an all-time high.
  •  The questions come from the way what's on paper (4+ / 0-)

    is practiced in real life.  Expenditures are quantifiable.  What isn't always so clear is whether a specific piece should be categorized as education for the public or political campaigning.  I also have work colleagues who are supposed to know taxes and they say that there would have been a valid reason to filter for names like tea party, and collect a large sample of them to see whether there was any pooling between or among them.

    There is no existence without doubt.

    by Mark Lippman on Thu May 16, 2013 at 05:50:21 PM PDT

  •  Thank you, Adam B. As always, nice, precise, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, ElaineinIN

    concise and wise. (Confession: I know wise is a lousy rhyme and isn't even what I wanted to say, but level-headed kept clunking every time I read it!!)

    I've seen an awful lot of misleading opinion pieces by people conflating the permissible missions of 501(c)(3) charities and 501(c)(4) organizations.

    Good to set the terms straight for all of us.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Thu May 16, 2013 at 07:22:03 PM PDT

  •  Thank you so much for this tutorial (0+ / 0-)

    and for your analysis in the comments!

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Thu May 16, 2013 at 07:32:31 PM PDT

  •  Kos Media LLC etc. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This might be a good time to explain a little more about the Limited Liability Company which publishes this web site, i.e., Kos Media LLC.  Is this the only entity affiliated with or are there others?

    I am going to guess that Kos Media LLC is a plain old for-profit LLC, owned by Kos and possibly a few of his close associates.  

  •  Lawrence O'Donell doing great job on this (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, fixxit, nargel, Praxical, Ian S

    Basically, the IRS in 1959 changed the intent of law.  They re-defined "exclusive" to mean "primarily".  That is totally nuts and makes the judgement of how political an organization is totally subjective.  Bad idea!  The law must be enforced properly.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Thu May 16, 2013 at 08:12:33 PM PDT

  •  What a Contribution! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    That's such a nice summary. Thank you!

  •  Basically it's very tricky to shut down (0+ / 0-)

    fundamentalist churches and tea-party activists, without also shutting down Quakers and conservationists.  

    Reciprocity can really suck.  Especially when we allow ourselves to get outnumbered and out-canvassed.  Out-spent, well, that's a given.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Thu May 16, 2013 at 09:13:06 PM PDT

  •  another capitulation by Obama... (0+ / 0-)

    ...another tail between his legs, weak-sounding, spanked address to the nation, and another missed opportunity to educate the nation about the vital purpose of the IRS, and more broadly, the function of taxes in our democracy.

    Another depressing example of following the Republicans, using their language, accepting their language, using their lens, and another picture of a "leader" being led rather than leading. And the same week he capitulated on Bengazi...

    The more I see Obama, the more he reminds me of Harry Reid, a wimpering, weak, frightened soul, unable or unwilling to fight for anything, or to define anything on his own terms. Just a wispy reed in the wind, being punished by his betters, waiting patiently for his presidency to end so he can retire back to private life.

    What a sad, sad waste, and how tragic for this country that we do not have a leader willing to shape, define, and contribute to a different vision. Tragic.

  •  A bit more Information (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B

    Concerning the overlap between a 3 and 4 and that many organizations will apply for both at the same time ,you can imagine that the process to vet each organization is a very involved process and is not simple task done over the phone.  Do we know what the organizations in question originally applied for and what their status is today and if they also submitted 5768 or a 990?

    When it comes to lobbying and political activity, 501(c)(3) organizations can appeal directly to legislative bodies and representatives and may support issue-based legislation. However, they must notify the IRS of their intent to lobby by filing form 5768, which formally informs the federal government that one has elected to use the expenditure test to have the

    501(c)(4) organizations can engage in unlimited lobbying so long as it pertains to the organization's mission. 501(c)(3) organizations are not permitted to engage in political activity, endorse or oppose political candidates, or donate money or time to political campaigns, but 501(c)(4) organizations can do all of the above.

    In regards to supporting these organizations, donations made to 501(c)(3) organizations are deductible to the full extent of the law as charitable contributions. Donations made to 501(c)(4) organizations are not deductible, though some businesses who make these contributions often write them off as advertising or business expenses.

    •  Form 5768 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B

      Is the form you file to make a Section 501(h) election   Just to be technical, a Section 501(c)(3) organizatio may not engage in a substanial amount of lobbying.  If a Section 501(c)(3) wishes to have a hard numerical cap on what constititues "substantial" lobbying, they may make a Section 501(h) election via the Form 5768.  However, a Section 501(c)(3) organization may lobby without fiing Form 5768 - at that point, however, they are subject to a more murky definition of "substantial" and not the numerical caps.

      Summary - not all Section 501(c)(3)s that lobby file Form 5768.

  •  Wow. Great Job! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sorting this out is not easy, even if you are in the process of starting up or managing a non-profit and have to put in some time to study up a bit.  

    Laying it out to make it readily understandable takes a certain amount of dedication, as well as skill.

    Thank you.  Awesome diary.

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Thu May 16, 2013 at 11:10:27 PM PDT

  •  Physicians for a National Health Program( (0+ / 0-)

    lobbies, or at least promotes, very heavily, for single-payer bills (specifically HR 676 and state bills such as CA's SB 810 when it was in play). I'm a member, and they operate as a C3 and my donations are tax deductible. I understand that their lobbying for single-payer is not their only effort. In fact, if you have a question regarding health care policy, I highly recommend the embedded search on their site. I never quite understood how they can do this, but I suppose if you have the resources to do the book-keeping it is possible. My C4, Health Care for All - California, simply cannot afford the cost or risk losing our legal status.

  •  I sense a distinct lack of detail in the coverage (0+ / 0-)

    of this "scandal."
      I wanted to ask a specific question about one of the details of the original IRS inquiry, about how much hay was being made about access to web sites. I wondered if the web sites were going to be examined to help calculate the ratio of political activity to social welfare activity the organizations were engaging in.
      But every current media piece I look at is almost entirely devoid of detail concerning what actually occurred in that department.
      I hope that means this scandal will quickly collapse under its own weight. The tea party has been losing relevance for quite some time, and do its backers really want a public parsing of "astroturfing" and "limitless anonymous funding?"

  •  No more! (0+ / 0-)

    Citizens United has to be over turned. An the 501(c) status should be dropped by the IRS.  The tax code needs to be revised and simplified. So all pay a fair and honest tax.

  •  Here is the short for educaton on on 501s (0+ / 0-)

    501c3: donations Are tax deductible, and they have to report their donors. A 501c3 organization cannot participate in political activities, but can educate the public on issues.

    501C4: donations are NOT tax deductible, and they do not have to report their donors. They can educate the public on issues and candidates positions on issues, but they cannot work for candidates or endorse candidates.

    PAC: donations are NOT tax deductible, but they Do have to report their donors. Org. Can endorse candidates, but cannot work directly with the candidates campaign.

  •  Since republcain raised the issue of IRS & Tea (0+ / 0-)

    Party groups, this is a great opportunity for Democrats to push this and investigate these groups & expose their work to the public.

  •  A question (0+ / 0-)

    Can a (c)4 donate to another (c)4 without scrutiny by the IRS?

    If so, even though these (c)4's that were being examined by the IRS were not part of the Koch Web of Evil, they could certainly be commandeered as such very quickly by other Koch-affiliated groups to further obfuscate the source of the money.  

    I could see it going down where some lobbyist approaches one of these small Tea Pary groups and says, "now we're all in the same boat here, we want to give you a very big donation to help you out, but when when time comes, we're going to ask you to give some of that money to this Super PAC to help our cause..."

    Or it need not even be a Super PAC, it could just be another (c)4 that IS a Koch-aligned organization, that will eventually donate to the super PAC.

    The more of these vehicles you have, the easier it is to chop up the donations and hide the provenance of the money.  Basic Money Laundering 101.

    It would not surprise me if some of the "withdrawn" applications had donor lists that read like a who's who of shell 501(c)4's, and not many actual individual donors.

    That would CERTAINLY invite further investigation to see if the organization in question actually was mostly operating as a "social welfare" organization and not as a shell corporation.

    Hence, asking for donor lists for these groups after CU, when the Kochs were known to be pulling these types of shenanigans may not have been unwarranted, especially if the prevailing view among the IRS is that many of these (c)4's existed for the sole purpose of laundering unlimited campaign donations.

    In the end, it's probably a bit of truth, a bit of paranoia, and the overwhelming feeling that the IRS had to do something to prevent the unrestricted proliferation of the (c)4's, lest they completely lose control of the process.

    I wish they just could have found a more elegant way to flag those applications without appearing like they were profiling conservative groups.

    People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

    by viget on Fri May 17, 2013 at 08:53:36 AM PDT

  •  The question is why don't people want their names (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nargel, Ian S

    known for a contribution?  

    When I read the program at the opera or the ballet, there are pages and pages of donor names, grouped by how much they donated.  When I donate on behalf of my family members as a Christmas gift the organization publishes their names.  

    When I make a political donation I don't attempt to hide it - if I was ashamed I wouldn't do it.  

    The people who don't want their names known are trying to hide something - the Kochs and their kind don't want you to know they are behind these people and policies that hurt most of us.  All political donations should be public.

    •  RadGal - there are lots of reasons that people (0+ / 0-)

      want to support causes in confidence. The most common is retaliation from their employers. In many occupations people work hard at being politically neutral so as not to offend customers, suppliers, colleagues, bosses and investors.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Fri May 17, 2013 at 11:56:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I feel the reason they are pitching fits (0+ / 0-)

    is the IRS knows they owe money because They have
    Been Taxed Enough Already.  T E A.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sun May 19, 2013 at 01:19:46 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site