A coalition of Tea Party groups has decided that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is making it too difficult for start-up Tea Party groups to qualify for tax exempt status and so is creating one to fight back. The group is complaining about IRS requests for thousands of pages of documentation required to obtain or to keep their exempt status under Section 501(c)4 of the Internal Revenue Code. Eric Wilson, director of Kentucky’s 9/12 Project accused the IRS of “targeting local Tea Party, liberty groups and ordinary citizens” with an 88-question IRS questionnaire and demands that it be completed and returned within two weeks.
They’re trying to bury us in time, trying to bury us in paperwork, and they are making us use up resources we don’t have, especially small local organizations and small groups. And they’re doing this during a critical election year. This is not by accident. This is coordinated and this is targeted.
Toby Walker, president of the Waco, Texas, Tea Party, said the IRS demanded every Facebook, Twitter and social media post that was sent out by her group over the last two-and-a-half years, along with transcripts of every one of the group’s radio shows. The requests for such detailed and extension information is overwhelming the small staffs of many of the groups which often have fewer than 50 members and a very small part-time staff.
The benefits of obtaining tax exempt status for these groups apparently outweighed potential concerns that the IRS would grow fangs and seek blood. Under the applicable code, 501(c)4 groups may engage in political activity and enjoy tax exemptions on purchases and other activities, but contributions from donors are not tax deductible nor are lists of donors required to be made public. But such exemption requires following the IRS’ rules which, as these organizations are now learning, are changeable. Returns must be filed in a timely fashion even though no tax is due, and failure to file on a timely basis opens the groups up to the possibility of