IRS: Watchdogs Urge IRS Not to Bow to Pressure from GOP Senators to Ignore Scofflaws


Today, the Campaign Legal Center joined Democracy 21 in urging the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to stand fast in the face of partisan political pressure from a number of Republican Senators who are warning the agency not to enforce tax laws against 501(c)(4) organizations that are secretly pouring tens of millions of dollars into candidate attack ads nationwide.

In a letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman and Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner, the Legal Center and Democracy 21emphasized that the agency should “investigate and take appropriate enforcement action against” the groups currently abusing the tax code for partisan politicking and to set down clear guidelines for eligibility for the privileged tax status as a “social welfare” organization.

The Republican Senators’ letter appears to have been sent in response to last month’s IRS correspondence to the Legal Center and Democracy 21 announcing that the IRS “will consider proposed changes” in eligibility regulations for section 501(c)(4) tax-exempt groups.  The tax status has been widely misused by organizations that have spent tens of millions of dollars on political advertising in battleground states largely attacking candidates for federal office.

“This is a blatant effort to intimidate and bully the IRS into not doing its job of enforcing our tax laws in the face of rampant abuse by shadow political committees, dodging taxes and hiding their deep-pocket funders behind 501(c)(4) tax status,” said J. Gerald Hebert, Executive Director of the Campaign Legal Center.  “We encourage the IRS to ignore this partisan political pressure and press on with enforcing the laws on the books and issuing clear guidelines regarding eligibility for 501(c)(4) tax status to stop the abuse of a privileged tax-exempt status.”

In July 2011, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 initially filed a rulemaking petition and have subsequently written to the IRS on multiple occasions to challenge the eligibility for 501(c)(4) tax status of a number of Republican and Democratic affiliated groups, including Crossroads GPS, Priorities USA, American Action Network and Americans Elect.

To read the full letter sent today to the IRS, click here.