Regarding the IRS controversy, in 1913 Congress created a tax exemption for companies or organizations created “…exclusively to promote social welfare.” This exemption specifically could not be applied to political groups. In exchange, the groups were able to raise unlimited amounts of money without disclosing their sources.
Although the law did not change, IRS regulations softened under political pressure to allow groups that were “primarily” involved in social welfare to comment on political public policy, as long as it was done in an evenhanded, non-partisan way. The real scandal in the current uproar is how Republicans, with help from the Supreme Court and its Citizens United decision, have made a mockery of the 501(c)4 regulations. They have blocked any nomination for a permanent head of the IRS and gutted funding, especially for the enforcement of tax collections.
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