The recent revelation that the IRS targeted non-profit groups for additional scrutiny based on their political orientation has shocked many observers.
The recent revelation that the IRS targeted non-profit groups for additional scrutiny based on their political orientation has shocked many observers. And for good reason. In order for our system of government to work properly, all of us are dependent on the IRS to execute the tax code fairly and properly. That’s why this recent scandal has been so damaging and so shocking to taxpayers and elected officials across the political spectrum.
But it gets worse. In fact, according to a recent FOX News report, this type of bullying on the part of the IRS has been happening for decades:
Ever since 1954, when then-Senator Lyndon Johnson pushed for a law enabling the IRS to punish non-profits who opposed him politically, the IRS has been in the business of government censor. What’s worse is that one of the biggest targets of this censorship has been religious people and houses of worship. In fact, one of the IRS’s first targets in the 1950s was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was subjected to a searching IRS audit because of his religious advocacy for civil rights for African-Americans.
The IRS of course has the crushing power to deny or revoke the non-profit status of a synagogue, church, or mosque if it says something the IRS decides is too “political.” But it can also put houses of worship and other religious organizations through the wringer of intrusive, costly, and time-consuming audits.
There are two ways the targeting works. One way is for an outside group, often one that is anti-religion, to file a complaint asking the IRS to investigate a church they don’t like. The IRS responds to the complaint by opening an investigation and asking the church often hundreds of questions about its activities, with the threat of revocation of non-profit status. This is what lawyers call “selective enforcement” and it is unconstitutional. No one should be singled out in this way, especially because of collusion between the IRS and outside groups with an axe to grind.
The second way the censorship starts is for IRS officials to take their lead from high government officials, including the President, to decide which groups to target for disfavor. This is apparently what happened to the “tea party” groups, but religious groups have also been targeted in this way.
If there is a silver lining in this controversy, it is that these revelations have led to intensive political and media scrutiny of the IRS—a level of scrutiny that many individual taxpayers wish had been applied years ago. The truth is that many taxpayers and small business owners have been subjected to extreme intimidation and bullying on the part of the agency—but their plight did not draw this level of attention.
So for the sake of taxpayers all across the nation, and for the sake of our democracy as a whole, let us hope that the IRS reacts to this recent embarrassment by cleaning up their act and treating all taxpayers with the respect they deserve, regardless of their income level, their religion, or their political persuasion.
Questions or comments? Do you need assistance in your IRS tax dispute? Call 844-841-9857 today to learn more!