The article about Mark Meckler’s statements at the Tea Party meeting revealed some of the hysteria and paranoia surrounding the IRS “scandal.”
We previously learned that the head of the department that investigates these requests for tax-exempt status stated under oath that he is a conservative Republican and that he was the one who initiated the use of the keywords “Tea Party” and “patriot.” He also stated that he did not receive orders from the administration or from anyone above him in the IRS to do this. It was his own initiative. We also now know that the Tea Party and other conservative groups were not the only groups targeted, since the employees in his department were also instructed to target applications based on words like “progressive” and “occupy.”
This was actually a very fair and useful technique for the IRS to employ to help determine which groups’ applications should have closer scrutiny because the law requires that tax-exemptions only be granted to groups who have little or no involvement in politics. It’s quite obvious that some of the Tea Party groups and some groups on the opposite side of the spectrum are very political and should not be granted tax-exempt status. While there are obviously problems at the IRS (e.g., the Star Trek and line-dancing videos), the use of the terms Tea Party, progressive, patriot, occupy, etc., is a very valid way to help determine which applications for tax exemptions should be looked at closely so that those groups whose activities disqualify them are prevented from shifting their tax burdens onto everyone else.
The IRS should investigate these applications more diligently, not less.
Michael Brazil lives in Grass Valley.