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Monday, December 9, 2013

Now The IRS Wants To Regulate Political Speech

As if the IRS targeting of conservative 501(C)(3) applications wasn't enough, now the tax collection/health insurance police arm of the federal government wants to go further in their governance of political speech.

According to the WSJ the proposed rules will restrict:
The ability of certain tax-exempt nonprofits, organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, to conduct nonpartisan voter registration and voter education. Such organizations would be forbidden to leave records of officeholder votes and public statements on their websites in the two months before an election.

The Journal of Philanthropy contends that IRS intends to expand the bans from the social welfare oriented 501(C)(4), to the issue oriented advocacy 501(C)(3)
While the rules would apply only to social-welfare groups, which are classified under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, the IRS said it wanted the public to comment on whether similar rules should by applied to charities, which are governed by Section 501(c)(3).

Even if the rules weren’t officially extended to charities, the measures would affect them: Many charities have social-welfare arms that allow them to be more directly involved in political campaigns than they otherwise could be under the law.

The proposal’s limits on political activities such as get-out-the vote efforts and candidate debates are a “threat to basic grass-roots organizing” that nonprofits engage in to influence lawmakers on issues and inform the public, said Diana Aviv, president of Independent Sector, an umbrella group of nonprofits and charitable foundations.
This is nothing more than another Obama administration attempt to restrict political speech. Having been caught trying to suppress the speech tea party groups in the recent scandal, they are looking for a different way. According to the Journal:
Why is the IRS regulating political activity at all?

The answer is that many Democratic politicians and progressive activists think new rules limiting political speech by nonprofits will benefit Democrats politically. Stymied by judicial decisions restricting direct government regulation of political speech, and by a Federal Election Commission whose bipartisan makeup prevents Democratic commissioners from forcing through partisan rules on a party-line vote, these politicians and activists have decided to dragoon the IRS into doing their work.
 Even Common Cause, a liberal group believes this is an attempt to silence political critics.

Here is what is really going on, before 2010 the 501(c)(4) category was dominated by the political left, since then organizations that were more conservative began using the 501(c)(4) category to engage in public education as well as political activity so now the administration wants to protect its flank by scuttling the political and voter information efforts of the entire category.

The targeting of Tea Party groups proves that the power of the IRS needs to be reduced rather than expanded. This potential power grab by the IRS should make all Americans very frightened about the future of our guaranteed freedoms.

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