Even in the aftermath of the IRS targeting scandal that has seen numerous government investigations, at least a half-dozen conservative groups are still awaiting a decision from the agency about their tax status, a process which is putting in peril their very survival, Politico
The revelation puts into question assurances by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen that the agency had addressed the full backlog of applications, some of which had been pending for years.
"If you say the targeting issues have been resolved … how come we still haven't received a determination one way or another," Rick Harbaugh, leader of the Albuquerque Tea Party, which has been waiting five years for tax exempt status, told Politico. "We are still being targeted."
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was targeted and is still in the queue, as are more than a half-dozen very small organizations across the country that are run by volunteers on shoe-string budgets.
The IRS refused to give Politico any comment for the story but the agency's website says that it has resolved 95 percent of "priority" groups that had been part of those receiving heightened scrutiny.
Still, some say the delay is unacceptable.
"While I appreciate that some determinations involving exemption for organizations engaged in political activity can involve difficult decisions, a five-year wait is inexcusable," said Marvin Friedlander, a retired IRS employee who oversaw the tax exempt division. "Justice delayed is justice denied."
One observer who opposes giving the groups tax exempt status also agreed that the delay was unacceptable.
"Regardless of whether or not a group is entitled to [501c](c)(4) status, I think groups have the right to have a determination made in a timely fashion — and five years is not timely," said Paul Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center, according to Politico. "It's a disgrace."
The wait is threatening the survival of some groups.
"Your ability to operate as a (c)(4) when you're not approved is fatally injured — your ability to raise money … to plan," David French, senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents more than 40 conservative groups suing the IRS, told Politico.
Without tax-exempt status, some groups struggle to convince potential donors that they are legitimate organizations, while some donors worry they could be audited or taxed.
And some groups have said they have lost members out of fear and frustration, Politico said.
Some conservative groups had been waiting so long that they ultimately withdrew their applications or changed their names and started the process from scratch.
Still others have folded due to the length of the wait, according to Politico.
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