The “Other Voices” article by Michael Brazil regarding the Tea Party and the IRS requires some clarification.
There is no hysteria or paranoia involved — just plain facts.
During a period of many months, Tea Party groups across the country began asking other groups if they knew why they could not get a response from the IRS regarding their application for 501(C)4 status. Normally, this process takes between two and six months. After three years, some groups still do not have their status settled. In addition, they have been asked to provide information that, in some cases, is not available (transcripts of every speaker who ever talked to the group) or requests that are illegal, such as membership and donor lists. Subsequent events proved that many Tea Party groups were being targeted and their status delayed.
It is important to note we are not concerned by the political affiliation of the mentioned (but not named) department head who claimed he was responsible for the targeting. However, it has now been reported that instructions were coming from a Washington, D.C., attorney firm.
We still do not know how high this will go, but we are more concerned about the concerted effort on the part of the IRS to harass groups based on their beliefs. Apparently, while many would like to sweep this under the rug, it has dismayed many American citizens, regardless of their political affiliation. With multiple lawsuits now filed, the whole story has yet to be told.
While we have heard that groups with the names “progressive” and “occupy” in their names were also targeted, not a single such group has been identified. This is the kind of claim that can originate on a “blog,” and believers repeat it without any proof it is true.
If it has happened, we would encourage these groups to step forward, identify themselves and join our class-action lawsuit.
The information in the article regarding Tea Party political activity and how it affects the nonprofit status of the group is incorrect.
We are allowed to engage in political activity as long as it is not our main purpose and such activity does not consume the majority of our time or effort.
The Nevada County Tea Party is very clear about this. We do not endorse or donate to political parties or candidates. Also, all donations to any Tea Party group are not tax deductible for the donor, and the major portion of our donations are spent on educational projects. We are therefore shifting no tax burden to others.
If this shifting is a major concern, we suggest you study the use of grants so generously doled out by government agencies, frequently for dubious purposes. This involves a tremendous amount of taxpayer money! Below are listed just a few of these grants just to give you an idea of waste:
1. The prisoners of Guantanamo Bay were lucky enough to get a $750,000 new soccer field. Wasn’t this facility scheduled to be closed by the current administration?
2. Mangos! The US government-funded a $30 million project to help promote mango growing in Pakistan. The program was abandoned after a year.
3. Last year, the National Endowment for the Humanities spent $4.2 million to conduct a nebulous “National Conversation on Pluralism and Identity.” Obviously, talk radio wasn’t considered good enough.
These are just a few of a long list of wasteful spending at a time we cannot afford a July Fourth celebration for our military personnel!
We certainly agree the IRS should investigate all tax-exempt applications, not just some of them, with the same diligence and similar time frames. That is what all of us should expect from the people who are paid by us all and work for us all.
Nancy Garcia is local coordinator for the Nevada County Tea Party.
We are allowed to engage in political activity as long as it is not our main purpose and such activity does not consume the majority of our time or effort. The Nevada County Tea Party is very clear about this.