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House panel to compel Lerner to testify on IRS targeting of tea party
Question of the Day
They said the problem is the rules, not the agency. They argue that too many groups — particularly conservative-leaning organizations — have formed as nonprofits under a part of the tax code that allows them to do some political activity while shielding their donors from public disclosure.
“The lack of clarity of these standards has resulted in confusion and difficulty administering the code, as well as delays in the processing of applications for tax-exempt status,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in its veto threat.
The IRS has said it is trying to write rules that would rein in political activities such as voter registration drives, candidate guides and other political activities by groups organized as 501(c )(4) nonprofits.
Those are the rules the White House veto threat was designed to protect.
Congressional Republicans have declared those rules a threat to free speech and have rallied to stop them. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, tried to block them in a spending bill this year, and House Republicans plan a vote this week on a bill that would put the rules on pause for a year.
The IRS, in a letter Tuesday to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, Michigan Republican, said it is paying attention to the more than 70,000 comments — almost all of them vehemently opposed — that have been submitted.
“Treasury and IRS will carefully consider the issues raised in the comments received before issuing any further guidance,” Treasury Assistant Secretary Alastair M. Fitzpayne said in the letter.
In the letter, the Treasury Department hinted that it might consider imposing the political restrictions on other nonprofits, not just those organized as social welfare groups.
One of those bills would give the IRS a one-year limit to finish audits, require the agency to respond to any taxpayer’s written request, and force the IRS to let taxpayers know when their information is shared with another federal, state or local government agency.
The second bill specifically resists the tea party targeting by prohibiting the IRS from asking taxpayers any questions about their religious or political beliefs.
“We’ve got to get to a point where this agency is under control,” said Rep. Peter J. Roskam, the Illinois Republican who sponsored both bills.
Democrats put up some opposition, saying the IRS would have more time to comply with all of the taxpayer requests and could finish audits sooner if the agency didn’t have to respond to so many investigations by House Republicans.
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About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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