Sigh. We thought this whole IRS scandal-not-scandal was over and done with. You know, the one where Tea Party groups turned the butthurt up to eleven because the IRS decided to see if they were being honest in their tax-exempt applications (hint: they weren’t). Even though some groups faced extra scrutiny, we learned that many other groups – including liberal and hard-to-define-on-the-political-spectrum groups — also faced scrutiny from the IRS.
It seems that the GOP just can’t quit you victimhood. The IRS is seeking to clarify rules around what these tax-exempt organizations (known as 501(c)4 organizations because of the specific tax exemption they are seeking) can do as far as politicking and not paying taxes. But according to the GOP, via Fox News:
“This proposed rule is an affront to free speech itself,” [GOP] lawmakers wrote in a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
Did you know that the IRS can completely override the First Amendment? We didn’t either, because this is a total bullshit exercise by the GOP to desperately hang on to a non-scandal in order to excite the tin-foil-hat-wearing wing of the party, meaning ALL OF THEM. Wonksplanation ahead.
Since this non-scandal blew up last year, the Republicans have desperate to find some shred of evidence that they have been victims of the big bad Obama White House. And of course, Fox News has been leading the effort to keep this issue in the headlines, because Fox News gobbles more GOP cock than an airport full of Larry Craigs. So what’s this new rule?
The central complaint over the proposed rule is that it would effectively codify the kind of scrutiny that Tea Party and other groups were subjected to before the 2010 and 2012 elections. Those groups had been applying for what’s known as 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status, as “social welfare” organizations. The rule change would limit the kinds of political activity that “social welfare” groups — of any ideological leaning — could engage in.
If you can crawl through the insidious hints and seven-layer bullshit dip slathered on by the partisan hacks at Fox, the last sentence there is the important one: the rule would limit the political activity of any and all “social welfare” groups. What would this do to free speech? Mitch McConnell weighed in, via The Hill:
“Mr. Koskinen, you know the IRS has no business regulating free speech,” McConnell said.
Let’s be as clear as we can possibly be here, folks. In fact, in case there are any Tea Partiers reading this, we will type real slow, because we know you can’t read very fast: This rule, or any other by the IRS regarding tax-exempt organizations, do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to inhibit free speech. Any person can say whatever the fuck they want, including speech about politicians, political parties, and ginormous assclowns like Mitch McConnell. In fact, you could put up a giant billboard in Kentucky that says, “Mitch McConnell Sucks Hairy Goat Balls,” and the IRS will be totally cool with it. We would too, in fact.
However, there are some organizations that are tax exempt, such as 501(c)4 organizations. That means that they get special treatment by the government, and don’t have to pay taxes. Yep, no taxes. Exempt from paying taxes. Are we clear?
In return for this special treatment, they have to follow certain rules. Those rules are laid out in the law, but sometimes the law is written poorly, because we let Congress write the laws and some of them are dumb motherfuckers (see McConnell, Mitch). In this case, the laws and rules regarding tax exempt organizations are confusing, because what exactly is a ‘social welfare’ organization? Well, the IRS decides, and the rule has been that organizations that are tax-exempt cannot use a ‘substantial’ amount of their funds to support or oppose political candidates.
Well what the fuck does ‘substantial’ mean? Is there a legal definition?
Hence the confusion. Some 501(c)4 organizations pushed and stretched the law and used lots and lots of monies to promote candidates and do things that were not primarily for the ‘social welfare.’ There were Tea Party groups who did this, and flaming liberal groups, and in-the-middle groups. Everyone was trying to exploit the law and do as much politicking as possible while not giving Uncle Sam his due.
So the IRS is seeking to clarify the rules around tax exempt organizations, to let groups that DON’T WANT TO PAY TAXES know what they have to do in return for that special privilege. If you would like to pay taxes on your monies, again, you can be as political as you wanna be.
And of course, because the IRS may clamp down on the amount of money groups can spend on political activity, it is now a direct assault on the free speech of all Americans. Which is not true, but fuck the truth when you can rile up the fucknuts in your base and send out fundraising appeals, amiright?
And is the IRS making this rule in secret, with no ability for any input?
“There will be a public hearing. There will be numerous occasions for people to bring any information that they would like, or perspectives, about those regulations forward before they are finalized. And they’re not going to be finalized in the near-term future,” added [IRS Commissioner] Koskinen, who said the administration had already received a record 21,000 comments on the proposals.
Open, transparent, and with input from all the crazy Tea Party asshats who would like to comment. This is the absolute worst way to run a dictatorship, Mr. President. But because they are trying to fix the rule, there must be some giant conspiracy, right?
“It is our view that finalizing this proposed rule would make intimidation and harassment of the administration’s political opponents the official policy of the IRS and would allow the Obama Administration to use your agency as a partisan tool,” Republicans wrote in their letter to Koskinen.
We are so very tired of this bullshit. We almost wish that there would be an actual scandal in the Obama White House — for god’s sake, someone throw a goddam intern in his lap. Seriously, we may pay Dok Zoom extra monies to put on that pretty blue dress he has and saunter into the Oval Office just so there is an actual scandal for the GOP to gripe about.
If you can’t get enough of this sanctimonious speechifying here, follow DDM on Twitter (@Wonksplainer)