A while back we learned that the Internal Revenue Service had admitted to targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny, holding lavish parties at taxpayers’ expense and using their business credit cards to make expensive and unnecessary purchases. The tax agency has lost all credibility – if it ever had any – and some lawmakers are now calling for its dismantling.
So it’s not surprising to learn that the agency’s bias against conservative groups led its agents to make unconstitutional remarks to those groups as they attempted to gain tax-exempt status.
An example of these conservative groups is the Alliance Defending Freedom, which was told in both written and oral communications by the IRS that it had to remain neutral on the issue of abortion and that it could not force its religious beliefs on others. The group was criticized for its “prayer and evangelization at abortion clinic sites.”
The organization’s attorney, Erik Stanley, says that the IRS should not place itself in the business of being the speech and belief police.
“What the IRS is doing here is unconstitutional – attempting to tell an organization that it cannot advocate its viewpoint and still be considered educational and gain a tax exemption,” Stanley said.
Admittedly, the IRS is put in the difficult position of trying to determine which groups qualify for tax-exempt status and which do not. But to tell a group that they cannot make their religious beliefs known and that they need to remain neutral on controversial topics such as abortion, well, that goes well beyond the scope of what the IRS was formed to do.
But if you’re a federal agency that spends much of your time showing bias against groups you don’t agree with and wasting taxpayers’ money on parties, then these types of actions should not be surprising.
How do you feel about the IRS actions? Did they surprise you? What do you think should be done about the IRS? Should new people be brought in to run the agency, or should it be dissolved altogether? I’d like to hear from you on this important topic.