Saturday, December 5, 2015

Tea Party groups have things all mucked up


Tea Partiers are up in arms (some literally I suspect) about an IRS proposal that would allow some non-profits to request social security numbers from donors. As Charisma News reports:
Tea Party Patriots is launching an email and social media campaign

—using #IRSPowerGrab—today, encouraging supporters and conservative leaders nationwide to push back against a rule proposed by the Internal Revenue Service that would give nonprofits the option to collect the Social Security numbers of donors who contribute $250 or more to an organization.

"They don't need to be collecting Social Security numbers. Donations to nonprofits are allowed to be kept confidential," Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, told The Daily Signal. "Having gone through the [IRS] targeting [of conservative groups] because our name is Tea Party Patriots, I'm very sensitive to anything that expands the IRS' reach into nonprofits and who their donors are."
They included the correct link to the proposed regulation and “call for comment.” Perhaps they should read it.

First of all, this only applies to charitable, tax-deductible contributions. It has nothing to do with political donations.

There are two ways that charities report contributions over $250:
  1. They mail the donor a receipt (something the Service calls a contemporaneous written acknowledgment) which the donor attaches to their tax return or;
  2. The charity provides the Service with a detailed schedule of contributions.
The overwhelming majority of charities send donors receipts. Donors assume that they will receive a CWA early in the next year.

The problem with those using a schedule to report donations is that the donors' social security numbers are not included which makes it nearly impossible to correlate the information to individual taxpayers.

What the service is proposing is that, if a charity is using the alternate reporting method, the schedule includes the social security numbers of donors. Don't like it? Don't want to ask donors for the information? Send out receipts. Problem solved. Tax exempt status is a privilege.

I loved this part of the conspiracy theory:
Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, joined Martin in opposing the proposed rule. In an interview with The Daily Signal, von Spakovsky cited a lawsuit the National Organization for Marriage filed against the IRS alleging that an official with the tax agency leaked a copy of confidential tax information listing the group's donors. …

"Just think if they had leaked not only the names of the donors, but Social Security numbers," von Spakovsky said. "I don't trust the government to have that information, and there's no reason for them to have that information."
Yeah, well, contributions to NOM are not tax deductible. The proposed change would not apply. Also, there was no “leak.” The evidence was clear that there was an inadvertent clerical error. NOM lost the case. Where do they get these people from?
"Small Junior Leagues or civic organizations around the country would also wind up being affected, and not just Tea Party groups, but civic groups have to keep information secure," Martin said. "It adds to the bookkeeping process and would have a negative effect on organizations that are designed to help make communities better."
Tea Party groups are not affected. This has absolutely nothing to do with political contributions. Can any of these people read or process information that comes from sources other than Alex Jones? Not everything is part of some conspiracy theory.

The reason that the Service scrutinized Tea Party groups' applications for tax-exempt status is that they had a penchant for applying as charities rather than political organizations. They seem to be regulation illiterate and create the problems that they then complain about as government overreach. As much as they would like it to be otherwise, political contributions are not tax-deductible.

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