501(c)(4)

Tax Day was earlier this week. Like many Americans, I said some prayers — and a few curses — and hoped that Turbo Tax made sense of my mid-year move from D.C. to Texas, my investment roll-overs, my handful of I-9s and W-2s. I did my damnedest to be “true, correct, and complete,” as the IRS insisted. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admitted via Twitter that he has “absolutely no idea whether our tax returns and our tax payments are accurate,” though, of course, he didn’t say that he knew that they weren’t accurate.

Campaign for Liberty, Ron Paul’s 501(c)(4) organization, announced this week that it’s actually pretty sure that its tax recent filings are incomplete, even if true and correct. (Two out of three ain’t bad?) According to C4L, the organization refused to divulge the names of its donors when it filed its IRS 990 forms. The IRS fined Campaign for Liberty just shy of $13,000, plus growing interest for each day the fine goes unpaid.

How did Campaign for Liberty respond? Not as you might expect….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Should ‘Campaign For Liberty’ Have Called Itself ‘Campaign For Progress’ Instead?”

“In four minutes, it would be another hour; a half hour after that was the ten-minute break. Lane Dean imagined himself running around on the break, waving his arms and shouting gibberish and holding ten cigarettes at once in his mouth, like a panpipe. Year after year, a face the same color as your desk. Lord Jesus. Coffee wasn’t allowed because of spills on the files, but on the break he’d have a big cup of coffee in each hand while he pictured himself running around the outside grounds, shouting. He knew what he’d really do on the break was sit facing the wall clock in the lounge and, despite prayers and effort, count the seconds tick off until he had to come back and do this again. And again and again and again.”

David Foster Wallace, The Pale King (affiliate link)

Yesterday, the New York Times ran a longish piece on just what in the hell was happening at the IRS office in Cincinnati. A Kafkaesque tale of bureaucratic intrigue, the treatment does little to tell us why in the hell we care just what in the hell was happening at the IRS office in Cincinnati. I’ll leave that determination to the qualified pundits and their punditry.

But what the Times article does do is shine a light on what it means to be a lawyer. What it means to others and what it means to us. Completely by accident, the mess at the IRS tells us how important lawyers are. And how impotent we are. This makes little sense even as I type it. But bear with me. Please. It is not often that meaning comes so nicely gift-wrapped.

What does it mean to be a lawyer?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “On The IRS Mess And What It Means To Be A Lawyer”

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Righteous Indignation, our new column for conservative-minded lawyers.

You probably saw this week’s topic coming. Until the folks at One First Street start tossing Elie and me some fresh meat to tussle over, my indignation — righteous as it is — must be directed elsewhere. Unless EM wants to argue that, when SCOTUS decided that Pelkey’s claim was not preempted by federal law in Dan’s City Used Cars, Inc. v. Pelkey, the Nine were, like, racist or something. (Query: what race is Dan? Where was the supplemental briefing?!)

So. The IRS’s targeting of conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status. I couldn’t not talk about this scandal, right?

Truly, I kept avoiding devoting this week’s column to the IRS abuses. Seriously.

For one thing, I was not initially so scandalized by this supposed scandal, though I was appropriately dismayed. Second, this story is still developing. So, I hereby reserve my right to be feverishly pissed off later….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Righteous Indignation: On the IRS Abuses and the Banality of Bureaucratic Evil”

Dear Republicans who are multi-orgasmic over this IRS scandal, just skip this article. Skip the comments. We get it: “OBAMA… had the GOVERNMENT… like, DO STUFF… which PROVES that taxes are bad!!!” Click over to Red State and bathe in the echo chamber. Here, the adults need to have a talk.

My question for the lawyers is this: how are we supposed to check the validity of groups asking for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status? I mean, let’s look at this “scandal” in the way the justice system will look at it, without all the partisan accusations:

  • Group asks for 501(c)(4) status.
  • Group has anti-government message in its very name.
  • Group doesn’t apply for 527 status as a political organization because???
  • IRS asks questions to figure out if these groups are really “social welfare” organizations.
  • ???
  • CONSERVATIVE OUTRAGE!!!!!

I’m open to the possibility that the IRS did something wrong. I’d just like somebody to tell me what the hell they were supposed to do? Just rubber stamp it? Because if that’s true, I certainly think this website is concerned about the “social welfare” and would like to be tax-exempt.

Maybe we should ask the woman in charge of the IRS Exempt Organization Division if we can get tax-exempt status? She’s actually getting an honorary tribute at a law school this weekend…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Does Claiming 501(c)(4) Status Now Put You Above The Law?”