Obama administration still refusing to process applications of groups it admits they illegally targeted
Despite promises to clean up its own corruption, the Obama administration’s Internal Revenue Service is continuing to target conservative grassroots groups for harassment – and just in time for it to possibly affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
The issue began in 2010, when the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Division refused to process the applications of several conservative and Tea Party groups for tax-exempt status under sections 501(c)3 and (c)4 of the tax code.
Under those laws, grassroots political groups do not have to pay taxes on the money they raise, so long as they primarily spend it on discussing political issues.
But the IRS refused to process the applications in the months before the 2010 election, and the Tea Party groups were subjected to invasive questionnaires which blocked the lawful processing of their applications.
And in October of 2010, when it became apparent Democrats could lose control of Congress to the Republicans supported by Tea Party groups, Exempt Organizations Division head, Lois Lerner, met with Justice Department officials such as Public Integrity Section head Richard Pilger to discuss whether they could begin arresting conservatives for speaking about Obama in ways that did not comply with tax law.
Not only were the IRS’ actions highly unethical, they were illegal.
The IRS admitted wrongdoing, Lerner resigned from office, and the agency promised to follow the law and process the stonewalled applications.
But it appears they lied. Again.
Even worse, the Obama IRS has stepped up its harassment of Tea Party groups – again –just weeks before an election in which they would like to tell voters about the political positions of Hillary Clinton.
The Washington Times reports:
The IRS‘ battle against holdout tea party groups is heating up again, after the tax agency promised it would begin processing their long-delayed applications, but sent a new round of prodding questions demanding still more information.
More jarringly, the IRS then publicly released one of the sets of questions it sent to the Texas Patriots Tea Party — a move the group’s lawyer says puts secret taxpayer return information, supposed to be protected, out in the public…
… “The IRS has taken the unprecedented step of publicly filing actual return information,” said Edward Greim, who is handling the case on behalf of more than 400 groups targeted by the IRS.
He said the questions asked by the IRS show the agency has not ceased the intrusive questioning that landed it in trouble in the first place back in 2013.
Section 6013 of the Internal Revenue code prohibits the IRS from sharing information from taxpayers’ returns.
It’s not the first time the IRS has been caught passing out confidential tax information on Tea Party groups. During their 2010 targeting, Lerner illicitly shared confidential information with Pilger as they conspired to target Obama critics with criminal charges.
And it’s no coincidence the IRS is stonewalling applications and trying to tie up Tea Party groups with paperwork in the final weeks of the 2016 election.
Polls show the race between Clinton and Donald Trump is within single digits in 20 states.
They also happen to be states where 501(c)4 groups can legally tell voters where Clinton and Trump stand on issues.
By blocking applications for tax exempt status, they can make groups afraid to spend money attacking Clinton for fear of being forced to pay taxes on it.
That means voters won’t be told where Trump and Clinton stand on the issues.
And just like in 2010, the IRS is still targeting conservatives to silence them, and that’s exactly how the Obama administration likes it.