What I don’t hear among the thousands upon thousands of words generated in this so-called Tea Party IRS scandal is somebody saying that the likelihood of an organization bearing the name Tea Party or its equivalent is undertaking some charitable cause, a requirement of a 501(c) 4 certification for tax purposes, is zero. In other words, calling a pig a dog doesn‘t make it a dog. To say it another way, one doesn’t have to be too smart to know that a Tea Party organization is not a charity.
What is happening currently is not a scandal – it is a controversy stirred up by the equivalent of bad used car salesmen trying to flim-flam the American people into buying once again a Koch Brother's old lemon under the name of IRS tax exempt audits. IRS employees, tasked with separating political groups not allowed to claim tax-exempt status, from bona fide social welfare organizations were given almost no official guidance on how to do that, so they went after Tea Party groups because those seemed like they might be political. Keep in mind that the commissioner of the IRS at the time was a Bush appointee. He was fired yesterday by Obama. This should end the controversy.
The big question remaining is should the 501(c)(4) status even exist? Should nonprofits be allowed any political activity? The problem with the (c)(4) designation is that it is essentially a charity that is permitted to engage in unlimited lobbying and some significant amount of political campaign activity (as long as that activity isn’t the organization’s “primary purpose”) in exchange for denying the organization the ability to receive deductible charitable contributions. The best solution to the problems with 501(c)(4) organizations is to eliminate them completely. An alternative solution would be to continue to allow these so-called self-designated “charities” to function, but require that their donors and the amounts donated be disclosed to the public.
Just saying . . .