Six Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman on Wednesday, demanding IRS records on the decision to enforce what they called a “rarely used” tax on contributions to 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations that are used for political purposes.
Specifically, the Senators requested further information about communications the IRS has had with the White House and other executive branch agencies and how taxing such donations could "impact constitutionally protected First Amendment rights.”
Ranking member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.; Pat Roberts R-Kan.; John Cornyn, R-Texas; John Thune, R-S.D.; and Richard Burr, R-N.C., signed the letter. The Internal Revenue Service operates under the authority of the Senate Finance Committee.
The Committee asked for a reply by May 31.
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The letter noted that President Obama had scorned these organizations, “In spite of their legal status and administrative approval, President Obama and his White House staff have made it clear that they view these organizations with deep hostility. The President himself, in a heated political context, referred to certain 501(c)(4) organizations as ‘a threat to our democracy.’ ”
The Committee noted in the letter that “we have an obligation to see that the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) enforces the nation’s tax laws appropriately and consistently. This includes reviewing actions by the IRS to ensure that it enforces the law in a nonpartisan manner, and that enforcement policy is never influenced by political considerations.”
“We note, therefore, with particular interest the recent accounts from the IRS concerning enforcement actions against individuals who have made previous donations to 501(c)(4) tax exempt organizations,” the letter stated, citing a report in The New York Times on May 12.