Tempest at a Tea Party

An article at The American — “Tempest at a Tea Party” — carries the subhead, “For 50 years, the IRS has been exceeding its authority. The agency should get out of the business of regulating political speech.”

The basic point is that the IRS lacked authority in 1959 when it declared that electoral activity does not count as “social welfare” for determining the tax exempt status of social welfare groups (such as the Tea Parties), and that this fundamental error is enabling the agency’s current effort to obliterate the citizen activists.

The conclusion:

The goal should be to overturn the original regulation, not just the additions proposed last Fall. Independent (c)(4)s, not controlled by parties and candidates, are, under the statute, entitled to engage in as much political and electoral activity as they wish, without IRS approval or paperwork. For 50 years, the IRS has been exceeding its authority, so if OMB really wants to eliminate “confusion and difficulty,” the best path is to get the agency out of the business of regulating political activity.

As a thought experiment, imagine an application for (c)(4) status that says:

Our organization believes that the political system and the Constitution have been undermined by interest groups and cronyism, that the size of the government is too large, and that the free market is hamstrung by excessive regulation.

Our mission is to deliver this message to the public, and to seek out and support candidates of all parties who agree with us.

As a matter of the English language, what possible argument exists that the activities of this group, including the electoral activities, are not designed to better the community and support the common good? So how can it possibly be excluded from the definition of social welfare



(65 Posts)

Author: "Ending 'Big SIS' (The Special Interest State) and Renewing the American Republic" (2012) [www.SpecialInterestState.org] and "Property Matters--How Property Rights Are Under Assault and Why You Should Care" (1997). Some former jobs: Assistant Director of Consumer Protection in FTC; member of the Program Analysis Staff of the US Bureau of the Budget; Research Director of the Administrative Conference of the United States; Director of IPCentral at the Progress & Freedom Foundation; VP & GC of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest. Graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, former Book Review Editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Leave a Reply