The Nerve of the IRS

The craziness of the IRS “scandal” cannot be underlined or emphasized enough. The fact that the IRS decided to scrutinize a group of Americans who basically state that they hate paying taxes and would go to any means to avoid paying taxes should not be a surprise to anyone. In my mind, scrutinizing tea party groups is a little like asking Willie Sutton why he robs banks. (His famous answer, “because that’s where the money is,” may be an urban myth but I like it nonetheless.) Since the disastrous, thoughtless Citizens United decision, the number of 501(c) 4 organizations has skyrocketed from a little over 1700 to well over 3300. The majority of these 501(c) 4 groups were, wait for it… conservative, tea party groups.

More from Vanity Fair:

Unfortunately, given the way this I.R.S. scandal slid so easily into ideological definitions, I fear that few non-politicos are recognizing the real disgrace here: that the federal government—Congress, the White House, the tax agency, and the Supreme Court—has created a situation where blatantly political organizations are able to legally break the law by pretending they’re something that they’re not.

The key to this obscene state of affairs is an entity known as a 501(c)(4), named for the section of the tax code that created it. Supposedly, these are civic associations or organizations devoted to social welfare, which can operate tax-free, but whose donors aren’t allowed to deduct their contributions. Fair enough. (more…)