CPI's Levinthal: IRS Nonprofit Division Underfunded, Overwhelmed

Monday, 21 Jul 2014 04:08 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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The IRS scandal playing out in congressional hearings has its roots in a decades-long drain of funding and staff from the enforcement office that oversees nonprofit groups, a government watchdog told Newsmax TV on Monday.

Dave Levinthal, senior reporter for the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C., told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner that the Internal Revenue Service has also hurt itself and made "a lot of mistakes" — from targeting tea party groups to misplacing critical records under subpoena.

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But Levinthal said a new CPI investigative report on so-called "dark money" flowing into political campaigns shows that Congress itself shares blame for the tax agency's hapless, scandal-ridden state.

Levinthal said Congress has "routinely and almost systematically" defunded the IRS' Exempt Organizations Division over two decades.

The cuts, he said, make that office's task of weighing applications for nonprofit status, and clarifying "fuzzy" federal rules on what constitutes political activity, difficult if not impossible.

Meanwhile, he said, de facto political spending goes on unabated by self-styled "social welfare organizations" on the left and right.

Levinthal said there's more at stake than just government rule-making.

"If you have organizations that are nonprofit groups, but really shouldn't be . . . then, in a way, taxpayers are subsidizing [their] actions," said Levinthal. "Whether you're conservative or liberal or Democrat or Republican, if you've got a lot of these groups running around acting in a political way, but they shouldn't be, then you're almost opening your wallet to make sure that these organizations can keep operating unfettered."

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