IRS chief set to redraft proposed rule for tax-exempt groups after backlash
posted at 10:01 pm on April 14, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham
First, an entirely and uncharacteristically reasonable reaction from the IRS on its proposed new rules governing 501(c)s, a classification of tax exempt groups that was the area of improper targeting of Tea Party activists. When Democrats realized the best way to deal with personnel abusing tax law was to create more tax law for them to abuse, the IRS went to work on more specific ways to crack down on social welfare groups. Their proposed rule caused backlash from both conservatives and liberal activists:
The Internal Revenue Service is prepared to rewrite a proposed rule regulating the political activities of non-profit groups to address complaints from the right and left that it goes too far, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Monday.
“In all likelihood we will re-propose a redefined rule and ask for more public comment,” Koskinen told USA TODAY’s Capital Download. It’s a process he predicts will take “until the end of the year and beyond” to complete. The proposed regulation of groups known as 501(c)(4)s drew a record 150,000 comments before the deadline in late February.
He said the new rule would take into account backlash from conservative Tea Party groups as well as some liberal advocacy organizations that the agency’s proposal – intended to address concerns that the tax-exempt groups were engaged in partisan warfare – would bar, even voter education and registration programs.
Can it be? An IRS display of good sense? http://t.co/k5cMvoPCNV
— Brit Hume (@brithume) April 14, 2014
Indeed, Brit. Lest we speak too soon, however, let’s read the rest of this interview, in which Koskinen whines about funding of the IRS. Really:
He says his current job is more difficult because the IRS has been unable to get adequate funding, even though money spent on enforcement generates revenue.
“If you gave us the $500 million of our sequester funds (slashed under automatic spending cuts) we would have given you back $2 to $3 billion more, and people shrug and move on,” he said. The agency now employs 10,000 fewer people and receives $900 million less in federal funds than it did four years ago…
“We’re sort of in the middle a political bulls-eye,” he said. “Together with the Affordable Care Act, the issues surrounding the qualifications of 501(c)(4) social-welfare organizations has been a battle in public media for the past year. The combination of the two has made getting more funding difficult.”
As it should since there’s plenty of evidence one of the government’s most powerful agencies abused its power to curtail the political speech of one side. Yes, perhaps the abused taxpayer should be a little wary about giving you more money with which to abuse him:
He warns the IRS could be headed toward disaster when new responsibilities, including the Obamacare mandates, kick in a year from now. “If we keep going at this level, with the increased responsibilities, at some point we risk crippling the agency,” he cautioned, “and that won’t be good for the government and it won’t be good for taxpayers.”
Get ready to weep:
One consequence already is a reduced chance of being audited. “They’re lower than they have been,” he said, then added: “I wouldn’t encourage anybody to depend upon us not auditing them. As I’ve told people, the roulette wheel is spinning.”
At least there’s something to be thankful for this April 15th.