Local Historic View
Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior member of the Intelligence Committee, issued the following statement in response to allegations that the IRS has engaged in the targeted scrutiny of certain tax-exempt 501(c)4 social welfare groups:
"The Internal Revenue Service must enforce the tax code in a neutral and nonpartisan way. Any politicization of tax enforcement is abhorrent and should be viewed as a grave offense. These allegations must be investigated to the fullest extent and dealt with appropriately.
"I first raised the issue of selective enforcement by the IRS during the Bush Administration, when the agency audited All Saints Episcopal Church of Pasadena based on the content of a particular church service. After a former pastor gave an anti-Iraq War sermon, All Saints became the target of an aggressive IRS investigation in which the church's tax-exempt status was threatened. At the time, I could find only one Republican colleague, Rep. Walter Jones, that would join me in calling for an investigation. The IRS targeting of certain organizations on the basis of their ideology is anathema, deeply chilling to free speech and cannot be tolerated.
"The need to investigate these allegations thoroughly and to hold accountable those responsible, however, must not obscure the fact that many of the so-called "social welfare" organizations which have multiplied since Citizens United are a sham that should lose their tax exempt status. Some of these organizations are undeniably and overwhelmingly political, and merely seek to use the tax code to shelter their operations from scrutiny and to avoid disclosure of their donors. The IRS must enforce the law fairly and with no regard for ideology, but they must enforce the law.
"Congress should do what I called for back in 2005 – undertake a thorough review of how the IRS interprets and enforces the law when it comes to tax-exempt organizations, and examine whether existing laws and regulations need to be updated to draw a brighter line. Congress should also act to require disclosure of contributions to remove the incentive for partisan organizations to abuse the tax code for the sole purpose of avoiding transparency in the political process."