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Scrutiny of tax-exempt statuses is warranted
The real scandal surrounding the IRS is the misuse and abuse of the 501(c)(4) tax status that conservative (and a few liberal) primarily political groups have perpetrated. This tax designation provides that the organization is tax-exempt and that its donors can remain anonymous, but the original intent was only for organizations that did not engage in political action. They are supposed to be for social welfare.
Now, a 501(c)(4) group can fund political advertisements as long as the ad isn’t the primary purpose of the group beyond the social welfare it provides to a community. However, the “social welfare” activity of many of 501(c)(4) groups today is under suspicion by both political analysts and the IRS. Many of these groups happen to have “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names, and that is why the IRS scrutinized many of them. By the way, although applications were examined and questions asked, none of the “Tea Party” organizations were actually denied 501(c)(4) status.
An example of a 501(c)(4) that’s been questioned is the American Action Network, which was formed in 2010 by former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and by Rob Collins, the former chief of staff to Republican House Minority Whip Eric Cantor. A self-proclaimed “action tank,” the nonprofit organization purchased attack ads against Democratic candidates and ads that supported Republican candidates.
Karl Rove’s “Crossroads GPS” is also a 501(c)(4) corporation that spent $65 million in 2010 to defeat Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, and it’s difficult to discern any social welfare activity there at all.
David M. Perlman, New Hope
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Perhaps they connect back to legal abortion
Regarding the May 14 Letter of the Day (“The atrocities we’re seeing in America are a call to action”), which cited mass killings and noted that, in Minnesota, “there were three searches going on simultaneously for three young women police believe were killed by the men in their lives.”
I would like to suggest that with the legalization of abortion 40 years ago, we unleashed the evil of placing no value on human life, especially on the innocent and the vulnerable. You value all human life, or no life is sacred.
Kathleen Hoffman, Minneapolis
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.