Wednesday, May 15, 2013

IRS 501(c)(4) 'social welfare' my ass!

This is a case where our stupid tax laws make us dumber. If we let them.  This is also an example of the logical fallacy of argument from authority, as in, the law says it is so, therefore it is so.

Does anybody think that 501(c)(4) Tea Party groups (or a much smaller number of liberal groups) are not primarily engaged in politics?

My mom is in a Tea Party group.  I get her alerts and chain e-mails.  When this Cincinnati-IRS "scandal" came out, I asked her, "What do you guys do, trade recipes and sing folks songs?"  Silence. Crickets chirping.  No, it's more like, "Obama hates America and wants to kill and enslave us all!"  That's what they're really about.

If you ask me, every 501(c)(4) organization should be audited, every year!  No party, no politics -- the IRS should look at what they really do and say!

And yet Republicans and the lamestream media would have us believe that we should give these partisan political groups tax-exempt status.  There's winking at something, there's putting on blinders, there's closing your eyes to the truth, and then there's being Helen Keller. 

The media and GOP are asking us to be Helen Keller and ignore what we all really know to be the truth: what these 501(c)(4) groups (Civic Leagues, Social Welfare Organizations, and Local Associations of Employees) are really doing, which is mostly to spew anti-Obama, anti-Democratic bile.  And they are demanding a tax break while they're at it.  

Here's a quick the IRS's definition of a 501(c)(4) organization:
  • Social welfare organizations: Civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, and
  • Local associations of employees, the membership of which is limited to the employees of designated person(s) in a particular municipality, and the net earnings of which are devoted exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.

Here's how the Washington Post sums it up: "These groups are allowed to to participate in politics, so long as politics do not become their primary focus. What that means in practice is that they must spend less than 50 percent of their money on politics." Neither do 501(c)(4) groups have to disclose their donors.

Gee, well, the evil Koch brothers spend less than 50 percent of their money on politics, so they must be interested only in social welfare.  Right? Wrong. Obviously wrong. We know this.

Indeed, our internal bullshit detectors immediately know what's what.  And yet our tax laws don't.  And yet because our IRS auditors in Cincinnati noted a more than 150% increase in applications for 501(c)(4) status among Tea Party groups year-on-year, and tried to find out why, (albeit clumsily), and yet did not deny a single application, this behavior by the IRS constitutes a "scandal." 

Forgive me if I refuse to participate in, or sanction, this political charade, but the problem is not the IRS, or even these Tea Party groups taking advantage of our stupid laws, the problem is our Supreme Court that made the wrong decision on "Citizens United," and our U.S. Congress.  

Meanwhile, do not ask me to forget what I know and fake outrage at the inconveniences imposed on fake social-welfare organizations.  I'm not a fool.  I hope you're not either.

UPDATE (05.16.2013): Peter Goodman at HuffPo agrees with me that the IRS, by noticing something odd was happening and taking steps to check it out, was doing what auditors are supposed to do: "The IRS Was Dead Right To Scrutinize Tea Party."  Auditors can never check everything and everybody; they have to trouble-spot and exercise judgment.

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