In the 2010 Citizens United case, the Supreme Court of the United States, by a partisan 5-4 vote, opened the door to unlimited corporate financial support of political activity. Some of this money is channeled through 501 (c) 4 “social welfare” groups, the number of which mushroomed after the court decision. The overwhelming share of this money goes to support conservative political messaging, even though 501 (c) 4 groups, like 501 (c) 3 “charitable groups,” must essentially abstain from political activity to merit tax-exempt status.
A unit of IRS, housed outside Washington and woefully understaffed with politically naive civil servants, is responsible for reviewing applications for tax-exempt status and deciding whether to extend this benefit.
This involves determining whether applicants disqualify themselves because of political activity.
Only an idiot would deny that the Tea Party was established as a purely political group and has engaged in political activity from its inception. The IRS staff is simply doing its job to target and examine Tea Party applications for tax-exemption. They give the same scrutiny to left-leaning groups, although there are far fewer such applications. To deny tax-exempt status is not to deny an entitlement - it is to withhold a special benefit.
It takes enormous chutzpah for a politically active group to request such a benefit in violation of the law, and they to cry “foul” when it is denied. Perhaps burdening the IRS with a flood of groundless applications was a political strategy in itself?
Lawrence K. Pettit