On Monday, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) sent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a letter demanding that it immediately grant tax-exempt status to 10 Tea Party groups which have been zeroed in on for additional review. The ACLJ represents 27 Tea Party organizations nationwide. Of those, only 15 have been granted the tax-exempt status they applied for. The focus of the demand letter is the status of the 10 organizations that are pending. The ACLJ is calling for the IRS to respond by Friday, May 17th or face possible legal action.
“This is one of the most abhorrent breaches of trust imaginable,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “We now know this coordinated intimidation scheme went beyond Tea Party groups to include Jewish organizations and even groups that discussed the Constitution. The IRS must be held accountable for this dishonest and notoriously disgraceful conduct. We are demanding that the IRS grant our remaining clients tax-exempt status immediately. If that does not occur by Friday, we will advise our clients of their right to sue the IRS for the redress of their grievances. The targeting scheme employed by the IRS not only violates their own rules and regulations, but is certain to result in a growing mistrust of the IRS by the American people.”
The ACLJ puts forth the following demands in its letter to the IRS Acting Commissioner:
(1) That the IRS approve immediately, and without further delay, the pending requests for either 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) tax exempt status of the following organizations: Albuquerque Tea Party, Allen Area Patriots, Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots, Greenwich Tea Party Patriots, Laurens County Tea Party, Linchpins of Liberty, Myrtle Beach Tea Party, North East Tarrant Tea Party, Patriots Educating Concerned Americans Now (PECAN), and Unite in Action.
(2) That the IRS identify and appropriately discipline all IRS employees who either concocted, knowingly carried out, knowingly failed to stop, or knowingly misinformed Congress or the public about, the scheme to target Tea Party and similar groups in violation of IRS rules and regulations, thereby unlawfully politicizing the IRS and its approval process.
- First, by singling out Tea Party and related groups for special scrutiny based on their political views, IRS agents violated the IRS mission to operate with integrity and fairness.
- Second, by singling out Tea Party and related groups for special scrutiny based on their political views, IRS agents violated the requirement to act impartially.
- And third, by singling out Tea Party and related groups for special scrutiny based on their political views, IRS agents engaged in dishonest, notoriously disgraceful conduct. The same can be said of IRS leaders who knew of, but failed to rein in, such biased, politically-motivated conduct, thereby allowing the politicization of the IRS.
- Agencies like the IRS must be scrupulously apolitical to retain the confidence and trust or the American people. With respect to its treatment of Tea Party and other conservative groups, the IRS failed miserably. The growing mistrust of the IRS is the inevitable (and totally understandable) result of its unwise actions.
Sekulow has indicated that many of the questions asked by the IRS are simply inappropriate and fall well outside the scope of legitimate IRS inquiry. A sampling of those questions can be found here.
Additionally, the ACLJ has launched a national petition calling on President Obama and members of Congress to hold those responsible for this conduct accountable. You can sign the petition here: Petition to End IRS Abuse.
Then too, Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered a Justice Department probe into the matter. Holder said the FBI is coordinating with the Department of Justice to see if any laws have been broken, and referred to it as "outrageous and unacceptable."
Rep. Dave Camp, (R-MI), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, along with Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), ranking member of Ways and Means, announced that a hearing will be held on the IRS situation on Friday. And, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Senate Finance Committee chairman said in a statement: “The IRS should be prepared for a full investigation into this matter by the Senate Finance Committee.”
Darrell Issa (R-CA) is planning to hold hearings on the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report which is located here.
“Let’s go through it,” Issa said. “Let’s see what the instituted changes need to be to make this not happen again.”