In January and February of this year, the Internal Revenue Service began sending out letters to various local Tea Parties across the country. Mailed from the same Cincinnati, Ohio IRS office, these letters have reached Tea Parties in Virginia, Hawaii, Ohio, and Texas (we are hearing of more daily). There are several common threads to these letters: all are requesting more information from these independent Tea Parties in regard to their nonprofit 501(c)(4) applications (for this type of nonprofit, donations are not deductible). While some of the requests are reasonable, much of them are strikingly onerous and, dare I say, Orwellian in nature.
What are local Tea Partiers to think with requests like “Please identify your volunteers” or “are there board members or officers who have run or will run for office (including relatives)”? What possible reason would the IRS have for Tea Parties to “name your donors” when said donations are non-deductible? These are just a few of the questions asked by the IRS in these letters, and one cannot help but suspect an intrinsic threat encompassing all these demands.
The other question is the timing of these IRS letters requesting reams of copies and hundreds of hours of work and potentially thousands of dollars in accounting/legal fees (all due in two weeks). Some of these Tea Party groups have not received anything concerning their nonprofit status since 2010 prior to these letters.
These documents are further undermined by a letter sent to the IRS Commissioner Shulman. Signed by six Senators, it requests that the commissioner investigate 501(c)(4) groups to determine whether they are engaging in substantial campaign activity, including opposition to any candidate. Who signed this letter? Senators Schumer, Franken, Udall, Shaheen, Whitehouse, Merkley and Bennet — all Democrats