Right Hooks

Is the IRS Conspiring Against Conservatives Again?

A new rule appears suspiciously similar to past donor-stifling schemes.

Jordan Candler · Dec. 16, 2015

As much trouble as the IRS has gotten itself into, you’d think it would tread carefully before rolling out more suspicious rules. But no. This is the IRS we’re talking about — the one that politically targeted conservative groups and whose tax-exempt chief at the time, Lois Lerner, walked free. Now we’re seeing what happens when government agencies aren’t held accountable. A Wall Street Journal editorial cautions that a new IRS rule has all the warning sings of another politically motivated hatchet job to stifle finance contributions. To wit:

In September the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department proposed a rule to give 501(c)(3) charities the “option” of filing detailed reports on every donor who contributes more than $250. These reports would include names, addresses and Social Security numbers. Oh, oh.

While the IRS says the rule is “voluntary,” in government that’s often a prelude to compulsory. The legitimate fear in the nonprofit world, on the right and left, is that this is a first step toward making such donor lists mandatory, and then applying the requirement to every nonprofit — including the conservative social-welfare organizations that the IRS helped to shut down in the 2012 presidential election.

Such a requirement opens up a whole can of worms, the net effect being that donors who value their privacy (and want to stay out of the IRS’s crosshairs) will close their pocketbooks altogether. Who, after all, willingly provides their Social Security number to a nonprofit? Even the IRS advises against haphazardly giving it away. Add that to the fact the agency has given us every reason not to trust it, and this may be yet another attempt to silence political foes (read: conservatives). Anything to undermine Citizens United, right?

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