IRS Continues to Push New Restrictions on Political Activity Despite Bipartisan Opposition

IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C. / AP
April 17, 2014

The Washington Post reports that the IRS is "forging ahead" with its plan to impose new restrictions on political activity by tax-exempt organizations, "despite pressure from conservatives to abandon the effort." Per the Post:

[IRS Commissioner John] Koskinen said this week that the IRS and Treasury Department are likely to rewrite controversial draft guidelines proposed in November to define "candidate-related political activities" that could disqualify advocacy groups from tax-exempt status.

That announcement brought relief to groups that want reform but feared the draft rules had gone too far. But it did little to ease the concerns of conservative groups that want the IRS to end its efforts.

The commissioner also said the agency will hold a public hearing on the original proposal around midsummer. The rule-making process, however, is likely to continue through the end of the year, Koskinen said. [emphasis mine]

That the IRS appears to be postponing its plan to issue new rules until after the midterm elections is already a significant concession for the Obama administration.

What’s curious is how long it takes the Post to acknowledge that opposition to the proposed changes is bipartisan, waiting until paragraph eight to note, "Lawmakers and policy analysts at both ends of the political spectrum have criticized the draft guidelines," which effectively ban tax-exempt groups from participating in "election-related activities" such as voter-registration and voter-turnout drives.

The American Civil Liberties Union, for example, along with other left-leaning groups, have been critical of the IRS proposal, insisting that any new rules should "ensure that issue advocacy and non-partisan voter work, on both the left and right, aren’t treated like partisan electioneering."

Published under: 2014 Election , IRS