The scandal at the IRS is not the one Congress is investigating—what else is new?

The IRS selected applications from conservative groups for tax-free status for extra scrutiny. This is the scandal?

The review for not-for-profit status is a wink and a nod process that ignores the reason that the exemption exists. This is the scandal.

The IRS (Section 501(c)) exempts organizations from tax that are organized and operated exclusively, for, among other things, religious, charitable or scientific purposes that have “no substantial part” of their activities involved in propaganda, or attempting to influence legislation or participating in political campaigns on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office. Churches do not even need to file any form at all to be exempt.

Exemption from taxation for organizations should be reserved for those organizations serving the greater good at no profit to the organizers, not for those seeking to sway political opinion.

Further, any tax-exempt organization that enters into a program of political activism should lose that exemption. And by any, I mean any, including churches. This means that when a preacher continually dips into politics over the pulpit, the church should lose its exemption, just as should any not-for-profit that muddies itself with political speech.

Marriage equality? Working to enact Christian values into law? When the line is crossed is debatable, it should be debated, not ignored.

Congress should focus on the improper grant of tax-exempt status and instruct the IRS to be a better watchdog on those already exempt instead of continuing the circus now in the news.


appeared in the Tulsa World on June 7, 2013 – go here to see comments

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