My personal response to the newly proposed IRS regulations1
Barry A. Schlech, Ph.D., Burleson, TX
Intro: I am a member of a local tea party. Based on our non-profit status, our community involvement and political activities, our tea party submitted an application for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status in June 2012. They are still waiting for IRS approval.
New Regs1: To me, it’s disturbing that the IRS decided to issue new restrictive rules for Tax-Exempt organizations in response to their egregious targeting of tea party and conservative groups since 2009! I believe it is IRS’s attempt to legitimize their earlier illegal behavior. The new regs supposedly clarify the “distinction between campaign intervention and social welfare activity”. In their usual “federaleze style”, they take entire sections to define a “Candidate” and “Express Advocacy Communications”. As Big Brother, the IRS will scrutinize all communications to expose “candidate-related political activities”. Voter registration, ‘get-out-the-vote’ drives and voter guides are classified as “no-nos” under these regulations. The rules seem especially sensitive to the timing of elections and what organizations can or cannot do within 30 or 60 days of an election. For me, these new regulations are more bureaucratic crap and another IRS smokescreen at the expense of our liberties. There…I said it! Now…for some substance:
First Amendment: Unless I am doing something blatantly criminal or illegal, as an American, I should be free to 1) meet with whomever I wish, 2) support whom I wish with my time, talent or treasure 3) join any organization, 4) promote, blog or speak out against any candidate, policy or regulation, 5) use my private property the way I wish, and 6) worship wherever and with whom I wish. These freedoms and principles are inherently part of our First Amendment rights. The proposed (and existing) IRS regulations are assaults to these freedoms. Also, our tea party deserves a legal tax break as a 501(c)(4) group according to the law. A myriad of other liberal entities already have these exemptions.
Current IRS Tax Code: The current tax code is unworkable and unfair. It picks “winners” and “losers” in an elaborate “tax game”. IRS regulations, like those proposed, only put a deeper chill on Americans getting involved in their community and political activities. Why would we, as a nation based on liberty, ever want to curtail any activism, political passion or community involvement of our citizens? What could be more important to a community’s or society’s well-being than to assure that the policymakers that we entrust to represent us… really do represent us and the goodness of America? Instead of the IRS slicing and dicing the American public into “winners” or “losers”, or into tax-exempt or non tax-exempt entities, it would be better if they simplified the tax code and eliminated silly rules and exemptions. I say it is time to free us up to get on with America’s business, instead of spending hours with our accountants, lawyers, tax consultants, government auditors or financial planners. This is a major drain on our society and contributes nothing to the social welfare of America. I believe the IRS should be abolished and a simpler tax code introduced that doesn’t require an army of lawyers or accountants for the average American to figure out what is his “fair share”. Long ago, someone famous said: “Let my people go!” They did and here we are. Unleash us again.
Federal Revenue: Revenue is needed to allow the essential roles of government to function… and no more! I said “essential” – as in the enumerated powers specified in the U.S. Constitution. The Federal government should turn its attention to reducing the oppressive bureaucracy, free Americans to create jobs, simplify our lives and eliminate burdensome rules and regulations.
People as People: I am a person. I don’t want to be a “tax exempt entity”. As an American, I wear many hats. I’m a scientist, a Christian, a Texan, a father, a neighbor, a businessman, a partner, a tea party leader, a spokesman, etc. and many more. The federal government should not hinder my wearing these hats, nor interfere with my performing the duties that each role requires. The proposed regulations forget that organizations are made up of individuals with flesh and blood, opinions, passions, biases and beliefs. I am the same person whether I enter my church, my home, my business, my tea party, my living room, my political party or any scientific seminar. It is immoral for the IRS to demand that I consider the tax exempt-status or IRS regulations whenever I perform these roles. Free Americans and businessmen should not have to walk on eggshells watching over their shoulders for IRS or government rules creating fear in their hearts of some future government targeting, persecutions, or repercussions.
Tax Tyranny: These new IRS rules suppress and intimidate political candidates, citizens and groups with threats of tax liabilities. What have we come to if as a tea party leader, I am afraid to say “hi” to a candidate on the street for fear of jeopardizing me, my family or my group with tax penalties. This is true intimidation and tyranny. Our crime is that my tea party legally applied for tax-exempt status. Something is definitely wrong here. We don’t need further Federal clarification of who we are, what we do or how we spend our monies. We should not be put on the defensive by requesting a legal dividend so freely given to other non-conservative groups. Withdraw your new IRS proposals and quit further assaults on conservative organizations!
1 Guidance for Tax-Exempt Social Welfare Organizations on Candidate-Related Political Activities. http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=IRS-2013-0038-0001 Date Posted: Nov 29, 2013; Comments due by Feb 27, 2014;