U.S. House: Watchdog Groups Warn House Committee Not to Prevent or Undermine Proper Enforcement of Tax Laws Against 501(c)(4) Abusers


The Campaign Legal Center joined Democracy 21 today in urging the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, not to undermine the IRS’s ability to enforce existing tax laws as they seek to address the agency’s targeting of certain groups filing for 501(c)(4) tax status.

The letter to Chairman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), and Ranking Subcommittee Member Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), and copied to the full Subcommittee, urged them “not to adopt any measures that would prevent or undermine the ability of the IRS to enforce the tax laws against groups that claim to be “social welfare” organizations under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, but primarily engage in campaign activities and use their improper claim of “social welfare” status in order to keep secret the donors funding their campaign expenditures.”

“It is vitally important that Congress strengthen the IRS’s ability to rein in the widespread abuses of this privileged tax status and not hamstring the agency’s enforcement capabilities when it comes to those groups that abused the 501(c)(4) status as a means to hide the identities of their funders while spending tens of millions of dollars attempting to pick winners and losers in federal elections,” said J. Gerald Hebert, Legal Center Executive Director. “IRS targeting of organizations because of their names or political leanings is absolutely unacceptable but any attempt to curb the practice must not turn into a witch hunt that leaves the agency unable or afraid to enforce the restrictions on political activity by 501(c)(4)s. The other part of this scandal that must not be forgotten is that while the IRS was improperly picking on Mom & Pop Tea Party groups they turned a blind eye to those organizations abusing their privileged tax status on a colossal scale.”

The letter was written in response to published reports that stated the subcommittee’s hearing next on June 3 is intended to examine “how the upcoming appropriations bills can help prevent the targeting” of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service. (B. Becker, “New IRS chief’s first hearing is Monday,” The Hill, May 28, 2013).

To read the full letter, click here.