In January and February of this year, the Internal Revenue Service began sending letters to various local Tea Party groups across the country. Many - if not all - were mailed from the same Cincinnati, Ohio IRS office, these letters have reached Tea Party groups in Virginia, Hawaii 1, Ohio, Kentucky and Texas (we are hearing of more daily).
There are several common threads to these letters: all are requesting more information from these independent Tea Parties in regard to their nonprofit 501c4 applications (for these types of nonprofit, donations are not deductible). While some of the requests are reasonable, much of them are strikingly onerous intrusive and Orwellian in nature.
What are local Tea Partiers to think with requests like:
- “Please identify your volunteers” or
- Are there board members or other officers who have run or will run for office (including relatives)”?
- What possible reason would the IRS have for Tea Parties to “name your donors ” when said donations are non-deductible?
These are just a few of the questions asked by the IRS in these letters. We suspect a systemic "Administration" initiative and intrinsic threat accompanying these demands. It must be noted that these IRS letters often necessitate hundreds of hours of work and potentially thousands of dollars in accounting/legal fees (all due in two weeks - although extensions are easily granted). Some of these Tea Party groups have not received anything concerning their nonprofit status since 2010.
- Kentucky 9/12 Project filed for 501(c)(4) status December 2010 and met all requirements. Received letter 14 months later (dated February 14, 2012) with no reference to original application requesting detailed answers on 88 separate points including personal information on volunteers, members, and every communication we have made. Our response "We will not comply" See details and full story at http://www.ky912.com/2012/02/governmental-witch-hunt.html
- Ohio Liberty Council filed for not for profit status earlier in 2010 and kept detailed records and have been in full compliance. Late January 2012 received similar letter to KY9/12 Project with similar unreasonable requests including "what affiliation are you to the tea party". Their response and full details of story at http://www.ohiolibertycouncil.org/?p=3839
- Richmond VA Tea Party filed for exemption 16 months ago and received their IRS inquiry late last year. They attempted to comply and returned over 550 pages of detailed documentation and information they requested. Within weeks after their submission they received a response thanking them for their thoroughness but were denied without explanation. Full story and details at http://www.richmondteaparty.com/2012/02/press-release-irs-demanding-unreasonable-documentation-to-satisfy-rtps-tax-exempt-request/
In response to these letters, a number of Tea Party leaders around the country have formed a coalition called P.U.R.G.E. - People United Resisting Government Excess
- Our aim is to identify those Tea Parties which have received IRS "letters,"
- Help them find the resources and referrals to answer the "requests"
- Put them in touch with their Congressmen and Senators in the hopes that they will investigate these occurrences and bring them before an appropriate Subcommittee or full Committee to answer these allegations of impropriety.
If you would like assistance, if you are willing to speak to the media on your group's behalf, if you are willing to testify before Congress, and/or if you are willing to assist others please fill out this short questionnaire by clicking: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDZRaExCaXZZQ0RYZ2MwM25zNE1TVGc6MQ#gid=0
To further buttress the thought of a concerted and conscious government action against the Tea Parties is the following letter sent to the IRS Commissioner Shulman and signed by six Senators, requesting that the commissioner investigate 501c4 groups to determine whether they are engaging in substantial campaign activity, including opposition to any candidate. Who signed this letter? Senators Schumer, Franken, Udall, Shaheen, Whitehouse, Merkley and Bennet -- all Democrats. Click here for the letter: http://tinyurl.com/7s4wpld
Could it be that these Senators want the IRS to investigate the nonprofit status of Moveon.org, Media Matters, Acorn, Planned Parenthood and their alleged coordinated political activities with the White House? Or perhaps they are concerned with nonprofit Acorn groups’ record of voter fraud, and other previous campaign abuses including alleged close ties with President Obama’s Project Vote? No, when these Senators sent this letter to the IRS commissioner, the message would be very clear. The 501c4 groups they want investigated are not those with Democratic liberal ties.
But why would a department like the IRS cave to Democrat demands? Could it be because this Democratic administration proposed a budget last month that would result in $1.1 billion in new funds for the Internal Revenue Service that would translate to 5,112 new hires, or a 5 percent expansion of enforcement operations? Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, couldn't contain her glee at the prospect of over 5,000 new union hires, exclaiming in response to the announcement that “the administration's 2012 funding level for the IRS would permit the agency to improve services through increasing response rates to inquiries, deploying enforcement resources to what the White House called high-return integrity activities and by modernizing information technology systems." http://tinyurl.com/7jkfubs
The IRS is already focusing on “deploying enforcement resources,” as Kelley put it, toward targeting small, local Tea Parties. However, from our research and feedback, these “high-return integrity activities” are generating a higher fear factor, not necessarily higher returns. At least one Tea Party group, in Virginia, when confronted with a letter from the IRSA "requesting more information" spent hundreds of man hours and returned over nine hundred pages - both absolutely ridiculous and unwarranted in the opinions of tax experts with whom we are starting to consult.
In the near future, the Affordable Healthcare Act mandate and all things related to healthcare are to be policed and enforced by the IRS. This means thousands more IRS agents will be added and while the actual number is yet unknown, 16,5002 is the number most cited.
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) provisions represents the largest set of tax law changes in 20 years.” That’s an overwhelming thought considering there are currently over 70,000 pages of federal tax code. This was the raison d'être for the Tea Party movement - smaller government. This latest obscene over-reach and excess is predictable when the Government is given and too little oversight!
In the name of fiscal sanity, ending a ballooning deficit (debt) and demanding a balanced budget, the Tea Party movement is in the cross hairs of unionized government employees who may be out of a job if we're successful in helping replace the current Administration. These are among the very folks who have the power to choose whether or not Tea Party groups get nonprofit status. And those same employees are also requesting names and information of board members, volunteers, donors, invited speakers(and party affiliation) and just about anyone that has had any association with the Tea Party.
It is apparent that there is a potential conflict of interest and it could be used to stifle the right to free speech of the Tea Party members, or any other citizen willing to question the system and powers that be.
Many Tea Party boards are afraid to speak out publicly about these intrusive requests because of fear of being personally targeted and singled out by the IRS. This is especially scary to citizens of modest incomes that don’t have the financial means to hire accountants or tax attorneys. And that is probably the point. Cower and fade away, or face possible persecution at the hands of government bureaucrats.
The potential of using the IRS as a weapon against those that disagree with the people in power is exactly why the Tea Party fears the growth of government.
Remember the words of Ben Franklin, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."
- February 29, 2012
Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 2508 - Room 4511
Cincinnati, OH 45201
Re: Information Request for FIN xxxxxxx
After considerable deliberation from our Board of Directors, the Hawaii TEA Party is declining your request dated January 26, 2012 for additional information concerning our application for 1024 exemption. We feel very strongly that the IRS’s request for additional information is completely unreasonable, excessively burdensome, and includes requests for personal information that is not acceptable and entirely unjustified. Your request for a complete list of our donors and volunteers is particularly troublesome.
The Hawaii TEA Party is a small, patriotic organization that is totally made up of volunteers and has no paid staff. We were very cooperative with the IRS’s original request for additional information dated September 27, 2010. We promptly and completely furnished you with that information and had been courteously waiting for your approval for sixteen months. We have been given approximately three weeks including an additional one week verbal extension to “provide the requested information in a timely manner”, which is completely unreasonable considering the quantity of information requested.
The Hawaii TEA Party is particularly concerned that the motivation of the IRS is to divert our attention away from our stated mission to promote Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets. We are very committed to maintaining our 1st Amendment Rights and will seek help from our elected Representatives and other organizations that share our core beliefs concerning this matter.
We officially petition that 1024 exemption be granted to the Hawaii TEA Party based on our original application and additional information submitted on October 14, 2010. The Hawaii TEA Party has always strived to lawfully comply with the regulations of the U.S. Tax Code and we see no reason why we should not be granted our request.
HAWAII TEA PARTY INC.
John C. Kerr