Three years after the IRS was caught questionably scrutinizing tea party and other conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status, Congress has responded. Legislation passed by the House will bar the nation's tax collector from requiring nonprofits to list donors on their tax returns.Right from the opening, they're misleading you. Here's why.
In a letter to the Chair and Ranking members of the House Judiciary Committee (Representatives Bob Goodlatte and John Conyers, respectively), Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik explained why the Department of Justice closed down its investigation. In it there's this set of sentences:
Our investigation uncovered substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgement, and institutional inertia, leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints. But poor management is not a crime. We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution. We also found no evidence that any official involved in the handling of tax-exempt applications or IRS leadership attempted to obstruct justice. [Emphasis added.]I'll simplify for the Fox "News" conservatives who maybe can't (or won't) understand: There's no evidence the IRS scrutinized tax-exempt groups based on their political viewpoints - the career investigators at the DOJ said so. Last October.
Now take a look at the very first sentence from the Trib editorial board's very last paragraph:
The IRS clubbed itself over the head when it targeted conservative groups.After reading the letter from the DOJ, you gotta ask yourself, how much of that is simply incorrect?
How embarrassing this must be for the braintrust. But yet again facts have no real meaning for them, do they? And it's sad, frankly, to see them use this bit of conservative propaganda as a cudgel to get a law passed that would further insulate the big donors who've done so much damage to our current political system.
The bill in question is HR 5053 and the CRS sumarizes it this way:
Sec. 2) This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from requiring a tax-exempt organization to include in annual returns the name, address, or other identifying information of any contributor.But when you take a look at what it's "fixing", an interesting bit of information emerges. The Research Policy Council from the Congressional Research Services summarizes this way:
The bill includes exceptions for: (1) required disclosures regarding prohibited tax shelter transactions; and (2) contributions by the organization's officers, directors, or five highest compensated employees (including compensation paid by related organizations).
Under current law, some organizations that are tax-exempt under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code must report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) the names and addresses or other identifying information of contributors of $5,000 or more on Schedule B of the organization’s Form 990. The bill would limit the Secretary of the Treasury from requiring the name, address, or other identifying information of any contributor regardless of the nature or size of the contribution... [Emphasis added.]So if I am reading this correctly, under current law if you contributed less than five large to Tea Party Pittsburgh your information wasn't required to be on your group's Schedule B in the first place.
By barring access to that information this bill will only give more cover to the folks who are wealthy enough to have thousands of dollars to throw at political organizations. More cover for big money corruption of politics.
Thanks, Scaife Braintrust. We know you're out to protect the little guy here - except that you're not.