You would think that problems Lois Lerner created would have made for smarter agency heads. You’d be wrong. From Politico:
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said the agency may expand a yet-to-be-released rule governing 501(c)(4), “social welfare” groups, to include political groups known as 527s, which focus on elections. It could require them both — as well as other types of tax-exempt groups — to operate under the same definition of “political activity.”
“If it’s going to be a fair system, it needs to apply across the board,” Koskinen said when asked by POLITICO if such groups would be included in the new rule. “[I]f we have a set of definitions for 501(c)(4)s, what about everybody else? Can they do more or less [political activity]? And for us as (an) administration, for ease of administration, it makes sense to have this common definition.”
Most of the 527 groups are already under the rule of the Federal Elections Commission and those rules are more stringent than the IRS for reporting purposes. The problem here, is that the IRS is hiding under the guise of “streamlining the rules” so that all tax-exempt entities would be scrutinized for political activity.
While this may sound good from an efficiency standpoint, it is just another avenue for the IRS and it’s workers to abuse the system. This did not go well for Lois Lerner, who is under investigation for possible criminal charges, and to suggest the agency knows better now, is bunk.
The IRS has a big job, but that has been the fault of Congress, mostly Democrats, who passed legislation in 2009 and 2010 that expanded the role of the IRS in monitoring political activity. That increase in regulatory authority has been exceeded for obvious political purposes. In addition, with the Supreme Court upholding the individual mandate, the IRS now has even more problems, which will require more money.
If the Congress wants to ensure that the IRS needs some relief, then make sure appropriate language is in the budget bills that restricts, or removes the agency’s authority to expand regulatory authority over legitimate groups wanting to exercise political speech.