- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2014

The nonpartisan Judicial Watch has petitioned the Office of Management and Budget to rein in an IRS proposal that will place “substantial” record-keeping burdens on 100,000 nonprofits, lawyers for the conservative watchdog group said.

The Treasury Department is currently reviewing the IRS’s new policy proposal. Judicial Watch sent a letter to OMB requesting the agency order Treasury to withdraw the proposal.

Judicial Watch said in an emailed statement that the IRS goal was to change the definition of “political activity” in such a way that it would cause “substantial … record-keeping and collection of information burden[s]” on more than 100,000 nonprofits.

In short, the IRS under President Obama would insert a new term in the definition of political activity from “candidate” to “candidate-related.” The switch means that any nonprofit partaking in political activities that are related to candidates — rather than simply and directly involving the actual candidates — would be subjected to the new reporting and record-keeping rules.

Attorney Alan Dye said in the letter to OMB that the new definition would constitute a significant policy shift that would bring costly and onerous regulations onto nonprofits.

One problem, he wrote: Nonprofits rely on significant numbers of volunteers to carry out their missions, and “anyone who has worked with volunteers knows that recordkeeping can be notoriously difficult. … How many volunteers are going to be turned off from civic engagement due to this paperwork burden?”

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said a deeper political strategy is at play with the IRS definition switch.

“The Obama IRS wants to kill the conservative movement with paperwork and regulation,” he said. “These new IRS rules violate the law and could, through First Amendment-killing paperwork, freeze millions of patriotic volunteers, from both sides of the political divide. President Obama and his administration ought to start obeying the law rather than rewriting it.”

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