Many of us joke about being audited by the IRS because our views are not in sync with the White House. President Obama himself has even joked about it back in 2009, when a visit to Arizona State University caused many to speak up against the President receiving an honorary degree.
That was back in 2009. And it was a joke, right?
Or was it?
In just the past week, we have received emails from various Tea Party groups around the country alerting us to the oppressive demands being sent to them from the IRS.
And so we ask the question: Is the Obama administration using the IRS to wage a war against opposition voices like the Tea Party?
One of the groups currently dealing with the government's overreach is the Ohio Liberty Council Corp.
The OLC's President, Tom Zawistokowski, posted a letter on the group's website detailing the timeline of the their efforts to gain non-profit status and the recent demand for documents made by the IRS. In the letter Tom states:
My own Portage County TEA Party has been waiting for over a year just to get a response from the IRS so we can file our 2010 tax return! In the attached PDF I share with you, the “Additional Information Requested” of the Ohio Liberty Council from our June 30th, 2010 application which we just received on January 30, 2012. Yes, they took a year and a half to respond to our application and they are giving us two weeks to respond back. As you will see, this is no simple request.
The IRS had the application from the OLC back in the summer of 2010. At the end of last month they finally received a response that required so much information that a small organization would need to stop almost everything else they were doing to try and collect the listed information. And much of it is not just disturbing in its reach, it raises questions of the intent of the request.
What has the IRS demanded?
A hard copy printout of the website - A PDF file emailed to the IRS will not suffice (and this is the high-tech Administration)
List all Social Media outlets being used (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and include hard copy printouts of every posting
A narrative description of every activity of your organization since June 30, 2010 (filing date) - And they do not want a mere description of the event, but full details - including; who conducted it, their qualifications, who was allowed to take part in the activities and how they were selected, was there a fee? (how much)
The IRS also wants to know about the members of the group and their roles and more, asking specifically for the "name, address, and corporate federal ID of all organizations that are members of our organization”
But wait, there's more.
Public events are also under scrutiny with the IRS demanding to know the time, location and content schedule of each event.
Copies of any and all handouts must be included.
Names and credentials of all instructors and copies of any workshop materials used.
All speakers must be identified and copies of every speech must be included.
The cover letter sent to the OLC by the Feds also states that once they receive the information from the non-profit hopefuls, the information will be made public and posted on the Internet.
Does that sound like a threat? Anyone who is part of a non-profit or even has attended a gathering held by a non-profit will have their information posted on the internet by the government. It makes you wonder if the same information will be asked of other non-profits?
Will everyone who buys a box of Girl Scout cookies now be listed online?
If churches are non-profits, will weekly attendance be posted by the government too?
This is not an isolated incident either. The timing of the IRS demands also makes you wonder about their intent. Tea Party groups across the country have written to us sharing similar information. One Texas group filed their application for non-profit status in late 2007, but only received the information demand letter last month. As stated above, the Ohio Liberty Council submitted paperwork over 18 months ago, their demand was received at the end of January. Florida groups (who we have spoken with, but have requested anonymity) report similar experiences.
Many different groups applied for non-profit status at very different times - (over a three year period) and yet, they all seem to have gotten the IRS replies within the last month.
Could it be that there is coordinated effort to tie the hands of these groups and silence them with requests for documents that would overwhelm a small non-profit? This is not unlike a tactic that is often used by large companies when they are sued by individuals or smaller companies. If the little guy cannot afford to meet the demands of the bigger guy, they go away.
Add to the curious timing of the demand letters sent to all of these Tea Parties and liberty groups the fact that the White House announced the formation of Truth Teams.
If the White House wants to silence the independent voices that played such an important role in the 2010 mid-term elections, all they would need to do is shut down the Tea Parties and other like-minded voices that have just started to find their footing. The IRS's well-timed requests for mountains of documents from so many Tea Party groups appears to be one such effort.