New IRS rule is unacceptable

To the editor:

Currently the IRS is proposing to codify with new regulation 134417-13 the unethical targeting of 501(c)4 organizations that oppose the Obama agenda. According to U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp, over the past few years the IRS targeted not only right-leaning applicants with over-the-top demands and painstaking delays, but also right-leaning groups already possessing 501(c)4 status. From IRS headquarters in Washington DC, dozens of 501(c)4s were flagged for surveillance which involved monitoring of the group’s activities, websites, and any publically available information. Of those groups so flagged, 83 percent were right-leaning, while 100 percent of those selected for audit were right-leaning.

Understandably, various right-of-center groups are urging everyone to contact the IRS and our Senators and Representative to oppose the new regulation which is draconian in its silencing of 501(c)4s.

Here are the details of the proposed new rule. Right now, tax exempt 501(c)4s must restrict political advocacy to 49 percent or less of their total activity.

The Tea Party and other groups have done this by limiting their intervention in elections or their opposition to policies like ObamaCare to 49 percent, and doing nonpartisan voter registration, voter guides, debate forums, get-out-the-vote operations, information on incumbent voting records, and policing voter integrity for the other 51 percent.

The proposed rule would broaden the definition of political advocacy to include all of those activities plus all communication even just simply on the internet. What this means is that if a majority of activity is not stridently apolitical like sponsoring zumba classes, teaching history without mentioning politicians, or hosting bingo, a 501(c)4 would have to pay corporate income taxes of 28 percent on their donations. Note that this harsh treatment will not apply to labor unions who from 2005 to 2011 spent $5.5 billion for lobbying and political expenditures, nor will this rule apply to trade associations, the Chamber of Commerce, or to 501(c)3s who are allowed to host candidate debates and do nonpartisan voter registration.

All Americans regardless of political affiliation should stand strong for free speech and against political discrimination. Tell the IRS that this proposed new rule is unacceptable. Go to regulations.gov, enter 134417-13 in the search box, then click on comment on the results page and make your voice heard by Feb. 27.

Brad Tangen

BARAGA