More than a year before the recent revelation by the Internal Revenue Service that it had targeted conservative and Tea Party organizations, a group of Democratic senators headed up by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer asked the agency to do that very thing, the Daily Caller reports
Schumer, along with fellow Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall, Jeanne Shaheen and Al Franken, contacted the IRS last year requested the agency cap the amount of political spending by groups presenting themselves as “social welfare organizations.”
They said gray areas in the IRS rules had created a loophole allowing political groups to improperly claim 501(c)4 status and may even be permitting people who donate to these groups to wrongly claim tax deductions for their contributions.
The senators said they would present legislation to rectify these problems if the IRS did not act to fix them first.
In a press release from Shumer’s office dated March 12, 2012, the senators wrote:
“We urge the IRS to take these steps immediately to prevent abuse of the tax code by political groups focused on federal election activities.
But if the IRS is unable to issue administrative guidance in this area then we plan to introduce legislation to accomplish these important changes.”
A number of those senators participated in a press conference about their efforts on March 21, 2012, and Franken addressed what he called lack of oversight of 501(c)(4) status.
“I think that there hasn’t been enforcement by the FEC and the IRS, and so there are entities that are taking a 501(c)4 status, and under that they’re supposed to have more than half of their activity be non-political,” Franken said.
“That’s pretty hinky. I mean, they really aren’t doing that, and that I think there needs to be a look at that — that even under the laws that already exist, there are people who should be disclosing who aren’t.
And I think that is where we’re seeing the effect of — lack of effective enforcement and just oversight.”
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