Feb 11 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) joined U.S. Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) today in introducing S. 2011, the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Act.
“The politicization of the IRS is not a conservative or liberal issue, and this legislation would put a stop to the blatant targeting of political beliefs,” Sen. Moran said. “No matter your political stripes, targeting nonprofit groups is terribly damaging to our Democracy. Every American should expect even-handed treatment by the Internal Revenue Service – and that clearly is not the IRS we have.”
The new IRS rule seeks to broadly expand the definition of “candidate-related political activity” for all 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations. Under this definition, social welfare organizations would face limitations on their participation in a wide range of activities, such as get-out-the-vote efforts, voter registration and education, any communication that mentions a political candidate or party, and any events in which a candidate participates.
S. 2011 would delay the proposed IRS rule for one year, as well as prevent additional targeting of 501(c)(4) organizations by restoring the IRS 501(c)(4) standards and definitions that were in place before the start of the agency’s targeting of conservative groups in 2010.
Background: On Nov. 29, 2013, the Department of Treasury published a proposed IRS rule that would broadly define 501(c)(4) political activity to include voter registration, voter education, communications that mention a candidate or party, grants to 527s, and events in which a candidate participates, among other activities. Even non-partisan activities would be limited. The regulations specifically single out 501(c)(4) organizations, and do not apply to other nonprofit organizations such as charities, labor unions or trade associations.
The administration has already faced harsh criticism for earlier attempts by the IRS to target these same organizations. On May 14, 2013, the Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration released a report finding that the IRS had inappropriately targeted and applied excessive scrutiny to the applications of conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. Several IRS employees, including the acting commissioner, resigned as a result of the scandal. Investigations by the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Department of Justice are ongoing.
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