Get PJ Media on your Apple

The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

May 22, 2014 - 4:38 pm

The Internal Revenue Service commissioner said the agency has decided to not move forward — for now — with a proposed rule to define 501(c)(4) designations in a way that critics say would violate free speech protections.

Members of Congress had launched a legislative effort to stop the rule, a bill the White House vowed to block.

On Nov. 29, the IRS published a proposed rule that would have defined the term “candidate-related political activity,” and would amend current regulations by indicating that the promotion of social welfare does not include this type of activity, according to the IRS, which said the intention is to “reduce the need to conduct fact-intensive inquiries by replacing this test with more definitive rules.”

Activities that would disqualify an organization seeking 501(c)(4) status include “communications that expressly advocate for a clearly identified political candidate or candidates of a political party,” “any contribution that is recognized under campaign finance law as a reportable contribution,” hosting a candidate at an event within 60 days of a general election, and voter registration or “get-out-the-vote” drives.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who urged IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to scrap the rule back in February, was satisfied that the rule was dumped but remained cautious about its resurrection.

“I am pleased the Internal Revenue Service has at least temporarily heeded the serious concerns expressed by myself and countless others, and has decided to scrap its proposed rule change restricting the political speech of social welfare groups,” Issa said. “Ultimately, the flawed IRS rule drew the ire of First Amendment advocates on both the left and right – these Americans, who broke records with critical comments about the proposed rule, deserve the most credit for blocking the implementation of the Administration’s wrong-headed and ill-advised proposal.”

Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise (R-La.) warned the IRS against bringing up a new incarnation of the rule.

“Today’s announcement is an admission that the IRS’s targeting of civic organizations for the political beliefs of their members was wrong,” said Scalise. “The IRS should completely abandon any attempt to rewrite these longstanding rules instead of trying to find another way to harass American taxpayers.”

More than 150,000 public comments poured into the IRS about the rule, setting a record for feedback on a tax regulation.

“Consistent with what Commissioner Koskinen has previously stated, it is likely that we will make some changes to the proposed regulation in light of the comments we have received,” IRS spokesman Bruce Friedlander said today in a statement. “Given the diversity of views expressed and the volume of substantive input, we have concluded that it would be more efficient and useful to hold a public hearing after we publish the revised proposed regulation.”

“Treasury and the IRS remain committed to providing updated standards for tax-exemption that are fair, clear, and easier to administer,” the IRS said, indicating future efforts that are likely to evoke a similar reaction from congressional Republicans.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) lamented the delay as damaging to democracy.

“The only hope we have is when the IRS goes back, they don’t succumb to any form of political pressure and enact a very tough rule that will equally curtail liberal and conservative groups,” Schumer said.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), a co-sponsor of Senate legislation to return IRS standards and definitions on 501(c)(4)s to how they were written on Jan. 1, 2010, before political targeting is known to have begun, applauded the IRS decision.

“I have said repeatedly that in order to help restore the public’s trust in the IRS, this rule needed to be scrapped immediately and permanently,” Moran said. “The IRS exercises great authority over the taxpayers of this country, and all Americans have the right to believe that the agency is operating in a fair, neutral and appropriate manner.”

“No matter one’s political affiliations, the First Amendment rights of Americans and their ability to participate in the political process must be respected and defended.”

The White House veto threat in late February said that such legislation “could prevent the IRS from administering the tax code more effectively and from providing greater clarity to organizations seeking tax-exempt status.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
You can see in this IRS rule making process the most basic threat to the Republic that has always been with us. The government of the people, and for the people, is not a process adhered to by a bicameral legislature and an executive, it is a system whereby entrenched cadres of executive branch employees issue decrees and regulations not founded in law. They do it to curry favor, to protect their livelihood, and because, in todays political arena with no real oversight, they can.

14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, as always.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
I can start off by saying I don't like anything other than public financing for candidates. Anything or anybody else is bought and should be either tried for accepting bribes or removed from any political activity except voting. I don't like anybody thinking they have more say so than I do and trying to buy more just pisses me off.

The use of campaign contributions or what ever is an abomination against whole nation. The nefarious uses of campaign contributions has nothing to do with free speech. There are more ways the Congress have created for the the collection and storage of money for their benefit. there is nothing free about the flood of money coming into both sides and the standard person is completely silenced by the screams and shouts of the big money contribution. Allowing those contributions is no different than paying $50 or $100 to everybody who votes for the appropriate candidate. They and their supporters are nothing more than crooks, charlatans and petty thieves. There is no freedom without equality and bringing such sums of money into the election is robbing others of their equality. Don't ever mention freedom or liberty in the same conversation as political contributions.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
I guess the lobbying efforts of shadow funded organizations won. Everyone else losses.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Attempts by government to restrict the Freedom & Liberty of citizens never die, they are constantly reborn.
They need to be treated like vampires: Drive a wooden stake through their heart, and then burn them - but enough about the Nomenklatura.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
501(c)4 Your ticket to anonymous (e.g. foreign and/or criminal) funding of the US election process... YAY freedom, ain't it grand?
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
They'll wait for the furor to die down and then quietly enact the new regs.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) lamented the delay as damaging to democracy."

Projection at it's finest.

Shumer, why not take a swim to Cuba. You would undoubtedly be happier living there, you POS.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
just wow
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
View All

One Trackback to “IRS Drops Controversial Redefinition of 501(c)(4)s, But Reincarnation of Rule Looms”