IRS Assault on SATP?
Posted: Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 at 10:03 am
By: Tea Party
We’ve previously reported what we see as the covert effort of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to intimidate, if not outright harass, Tea Parties and similar conservative grassroots organizations.
Two years ago the San Antonio Tea Party applied for its official government-issued 501(c)(4) tax exemption status. After months of no communication, on February 2nd of this year, the IRS sent us an 8-page letter informing us they need additional information to process our application. And, “under penalties of perjury” began the friendly greeting, we were asked to answer over 80 questions concerning our events, speakers, expenses, what was said at every event and by every speaker, our associations as a group, and (sit down for this one) names of every donor. All of this information was to be returned to the IRS within three weeks of their request. There are many words to describe this request, but we’ll suffice to say we found it unacceptable.
Similar requests to other groups have been well reported (see David French’s March 2nd National Review Online article “A Broad-Based IRS Assault on the Tea Party.” While we recognize the IRS’ responsibility to ensure requests such as ours are legal and proper, their request for information goes beyond the normal and impinges on our First Amendment rights.
In response to the IRS request, the SATP Board of Directors voted to call upon attorney Jay Sekulow and the American Center for Law and Justice to represent us in dealing with the IRS on this matter. His team of professionals is similarly representing many other groups who also face this situation—see the March 7th stories from The Blaze (Click Here) and the ACLJ (Click Here).
Mr. Sekulow recently wrote, “We are fighting back, representing many of the largest Tea Party groups in America. I am personally heading up a legal team to aggressively respond to the IRS’s political bullying tactics.” Tea Parties, he went on to note, “…have followed the law and requested tax-exempt status for their activities just as Americans have done for a hundred years. President Obama’s IRS appears to be using this as an opportunity to intimidate – to silence – these law-abiding citizens from exercising their fundamental First Amendment rights.”
Additionally, Congress has recently become involved in this issue. In a March 27th letter (Click Here), Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending, requested Ms. Lois G. Lerner, Director, Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS to answer some question herself. Specifically, the Congressmen are trying to determine the IRS’ authority on these matters, its rationale, the precedent for these requests, the standards it is using, and how it will use the information it gathers. ACLJ is also reporting Congressional alarm (Click Here). All good questions to ask, and we appreciate this Congressional oversight! The SATP is currently contacting all of our local Congressmen and our two U.S. Senators to sign on to this letter or a similar one.
We will keep you apprised of the battle as it ensues.
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