“The power to tax involves the power to destroy,” the Supreme Court wrote in 1819, shortly after America began.
Now in 2013, President Barack Obama is launching a frightening attack on free speech, using one of the most feared agencies in all the federal government: the Internal Revenue Service.
One of the most roundly-condemned aspects of Richard Nixon’s malfeasance in office was his use of the IRS to target his political enemies with audits. If people shudder at Nixon’s abuses with the IRS, what Obama is doing should drive them to convulsions.
Obama seeks to silence dissenting voices with unprecedented new regulations to curtail political speech by nonprofit organizations. These new rules would help silence conservative organizations and Obama’s critics and raise serious First Amendment concerns, as these rules look like the federal provisions struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in its famous Citizens United case.
Congress allows for various types of organizations to organize as nonprofit, revenue from which is not subject to corporate federal income tax. For example, fundamentally charitable or educational nonprofits—such as churches—are 501c3 organizations, contributions to which are also tax-deductible by the donors.
Some groups are 501c5 organizations. These are political action committees (PACs), which endorse candidates for office and devote their resources to advancing or defeating certain candidates.
Then there are 501c4 organizations. These are social welfare organizations, dedicated to advancing certain issues or viewpoints they believe promote “the common good and general welfare.” These nonprofits can devote much of their resources to political activity, so long as politics is not the group’s “primary purpose.”
It’s always been assumed that less than 50 percent would be devoted to pure politicking, but no one knows because the law does not specify. Also—conveniently—the Tax Code fails to define …read more