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In our opinion: The IRS abuses include unreasonable auditors

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  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 14, 2013 6:46 a.m.

    The abuses were not isolated to one branch in Cincinnati, as the administration has tried to pretend. Incidents are now being reported from locations around the country, including Washington, D.C. This one goes to the top.

    Obama wanted to be FDR, and now he's Nixon.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    May 14, 2013 7:08 a.m.

    It's all Bush's fault, right Demos?

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    May 14, 2013 8:13 a.m.

    Someone is bound to blame the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision for leading to these problems. That decision held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting how corporations, associations or labor unions spend money on political causes." Citizens United is actually at the heart of the problem. Pre Citizens United 501(c)4s were organizations that promoted the public welfare, by doing things like buying books for schools, building food pantries etc. They were prohibited from having as their sole purpose influencing public policy, right or left. Then CU came along and Karl Rove saw his chance.
    An organization who's only purpose is political should have their 501c status request scrutinized, regardless if they are conservative or liberal, but frankly if the title of your organization is Tea Party Patriots you're an easy target.

  • booshway Woods Cross, UT
    May 14, 2013 9:03 a.m.

    Obama's "outrage" is because his IRS got caught in criminal activity, again. The IRS has been used by Obama before to attack the Koch Brothers, Mitt Romney, Mitt's supporters and others. This most certainly is NOT an isolated incident perpetrated by low level underlings is one office.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 14, 2013 9:29 a.m.

    "....Someone is bound to blame the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision for leading to these problems. That decision held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting how corporations, associations or labor unions spend money on political causes...."
    ______________________________

    That's true but it isn't the issue in the IRS auditing a tax return of someone filing for tax exempt status for what might be a political contribution to a PAC. That's illegal and falls under the scope of IRS responsibility.

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    May 14, 2013 10:05 a.m.

    Another Giant step towards Communism UNLESS swift steps are taken to clean house.

    We the people need to stand united against this nonsense.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    May 14, 2013 10:18 a.m.

    Another Giant step towards Communism UNLESS swift steps are taken to clean house. Really..Communisim? What century is this?

  • 4601 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 14, 2013 10:36 a.m.

    It is ironic that the cover picture for this story is that of BIll Clinton. His inability to distinguish between a truth and a lie is legendary. On further reflection, that may equate with the IRS.

  • Moderate Salt Lake City, UT
    May 14, 2013 11:10 a.m.

    "Both major parties should initiate investigations."
    Absolutely.

    We've already forgotten that under George W Bush, the IRS went after the NAACP, Greenpeace, and even All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasedena after the pastor criticized President Bush's preemptive strike doctrine. The IRS should not be a tool of harassment by any President.

  • Voice of Reason Layton, UT
    May 14, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    Moderate,

    I'm sorry, but the two are not comparable at all. The IRS investigated those three because of specific, identifiable events which were clearly in support of a specific candidate (big no-no), as opposed to just broadly partisan for a particular viewpoint (kosher). For example, the NAACP was investigated by the IRS because Julian Bond, its then-director, gave what amounted to a campaign speech for John Kerry. THAT is what the IRS is SUPPOSED to investigate according to current law, and they were exonerated anyway. But there was never a pattern of Bush going after liberal groups in general in a clearly coordinated effort to intimidate them into inaction, which is what the IRS has been doing to conservative groups. Small wonder since IRS staff, then and now, and overwhelmingly liberal.

    I actually think the whole idea that tax exempt status depends on being nonpartisan is ridiculous anyway, since human beings are ALWAYS partisan by nature to some degree, and to ask Greenpeace or the Tea Party to try to "act" nonpartisan in order to get tax exemption ignores reality and is frankly unjust.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    May 14, 2013 12:18 p.m.

    I read the op-ed, expecting the usual diet of red meat designed to send the usual suspects headlong into conspiracy city.

    I stand surprised and amazed at the tone of the op-ed.

    Thank you DN for your balanced assessment of this issue.

  • wer South Jordan, UT
    May 14, 2013 12:34 p.m.

    While the first stop in this travesty is at the IRS main office. In truth, this mess goes all the way to the White House.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 14, 2013 1:00 p.m.

    "While the first stop in this travesty is at the IRS main office. In truth, this mess goes all the way to the White House."
    ______________________________

    Don't hold back. Share with us whatever hot news tip you've got. If the Deseret News finds an independent confirmation, you'll be handing them a news scoop that will make the DN the envy of every daily in the country.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 14, 2013 1:14 p.m.

    "In truth, this mess goes all the way to the White House."

    Well, I guess that settles it. Thanks for saving us all that time looking into it.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 14, 2013 3:31 p.m.

    @pragmatistferlife "...if the title of your organization is Tea Party Patriots you're an easy target."

    Yeah, I'm sure that other political persuasions were next on their list. It's just that "patriot" falls before "progressive" in alphabetical order.

    Obama is all done. You realize that, don't you?

  • Straitpath PROVO, UT
    May 14, 2013 4:54 p.m.

    Of all the chilling realizations I have had about Barack Obama, this is the most chilling. In business we talk about 'the tone at the top' meaning the leaders of a company set the tone for the whole company. The President sets the tone for his whole administration. The lower level IRS knew their actions would win the President's approval

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 14, 2013 8:09 p.m.

    How much more corruption must America endure before the press becomes the "attack dog" on Obama that it was on Nixon?

  • silo Sandy, UT
    May 14, 2013 10:01 p.m.

    Mountanman - "It's all Bush's fault, right Demos?"

    That Douglas Shulman was acting commissioner when this all took place and the fact that he was a Bush appointee certainly shines a different light on your outrage.

    Maybe them libs got to him?

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    May 15, 2013 8:19 a.m.

    Nate, Obama is all done. You realize that, don't you? Just what does that mean? Do you think he's going to resign, get impeached and run out of office? If you mean the later I'd say no he's not done.

    So far all the Republicans have been able to accomplish the past five years is to churn up a whole lot of smoke and run around yelling fire, fire. To be blind to the differences between covering up a common criminal act of burglary, lying under oath, and having subordinates change talking points, or administrative branches possibly overstep legal and authorized functions doesn't help the country or your cause. It simply looks desperate. Which of course it is.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    May 15, 2013 9:08 a.m.

    I've been audited. These folks weren't even audited!! Their application was essentially subject to review to see if they were eligible for tax exempt status.

    Was it based on the difficulty of determining if the majority of these particular groups' activities were to 1) promote social welfare, or 2) engage in political activity?

    The particular section of law they are applying under requires that the groups are for "promoting social welfare," yet all Tea Party groups were clearly engaged in loud, blatant and very public political activities.
    Simply sending a memo that says, "Hey folks, it looks like those 'tea party' groups are mostly political. Be sure to check social welfare activity is valid," seems perfectly acceptable to me.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    May 15, 2013 10:22 a.m.

    This has been a liberal tactic for a while. The Clintons threatened to remove tax-exempt status from churches they deemed to be too politically active, and at the time a general observation was made that conservative nonprofits are regularly targetted by government auditors. It needs to stop.

  • Voice of Reason Layton, UT
    May 15, 2013 11:29 a.m.

    HV Heretic,

    Yet somehow, liberal groups and labor union-backed groups - which exploded at a far greater rate than conservative groups - were not also singled out for the political equivalent of body cavity searches. I suppose that's because conservative Tea Party groups don't promote the social welfare and are mostly political, but liberal groups OBVIOUSLY promote the social welfare and are above being political.

    Nah, that's not biased at all. Nothing to see here, people, just the noble IRS responsibly scrutinizing groups which don't promote social welfare and are mostly political...which, as we all know, means "conservative."

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 15, 2013 3:06 p.m.

    At this point no conservative groups have stated their applications were rejected by the IRS, while one liberal group (Emerge America) had theirs rejected.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    May 15, 2013 3:28 p.m.

    Maybe we should wait for and hear the facts before we jump to any conclusions.

    The Diane Rehm show on NPR (available in UT) had an excellent program discussing this issue.

    I can tell you Presidents and Congress develop and pass laws. Pres. Obama isn't involved the IRS implementation of law.

    What we really need to do is to revise our campaign laws so that we don't have these types of opaque quasi-political organizations masquerading as something else. The law says 401c-4s must be EXCLUSIVELY involved in social welfare as opposed to political activities for tax-ezempt status. However, the IRS for the past many years has interpreted the law as requiring organizations to be PRIMARILY involved in social welfare activities.

    Let's pass the Disclose Act requiring:

    any group that spends $10,000 or more on election ads, or any other political activity, to file a disclosure report with the FEC and to disclose donors who gave $10,000 or more and provide a statement from the group’s head ratifying that there was no coordination with any campaign, which is illegal.

  • 4601 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 15, 2013 10:08 p.m.

    The brilliant president who knows everything now knows nothing about political IRS practices that have gone on for years? Thank you Jay Carney.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 16, 2013 12:23 a.m.

    @pragmatistferlife "Just what does that mean?"

    This: Big Government can only be sold to people who hold the illusion that it won't be used against them. The Obama administration has shattered this illusion. Obama will never be able to sell another expansion of government. His agenda is now dead in the water.

    And this: Obama's signature accomplishment, Obamacare, depends upon the Internal Revenue Service for enforcement. He will be asking the public to trust that their health care will be administered fairly and impartially by the IRS. No one will believe it.

  • Voice of Reason Layton, UT
    May 16, 2013 9:08 a.m.

    The problem, Truthseeker, is who gets to decide the difference between "social welfare" and "political activities"? I don't know about you, but I think the Tea Party is a huge force for positive social welfare, and that ofc ourse involves political action. The Whole idea that there's a clear difference between "social welfare" and "political action" is an impossible myth, since many, if not most, political pressure groups are motivated by what they believe is good for this country. That's why we have a political system.

    I think the IRS needs to get OUT of the business altogether of trying to decide if the Tea Party should be tax exempt vs. Greenpeace or labor unions, because that will always, by definition, be fraught with human bias. And so far, it's obvious to the point of being admitted by Obama himself that the IRS was clearly favoring liberal groups and illegally - possibly criminally - intimidating conservative groups.