Thursday, January 30, 2014

IRS Rule Change Silences You But Not Labor Unions or Trade Associations

America, we need a comment from you and yours on the IRS proposed rule change targeting conservative voices. Senator Ted Cruz reminded us yesterday that the public commenting period is open to February 27th. The change silences voices of those who are TEA Party-minded, "taxed enough already," those calling for smaller government. The change does not affect labor unions, trade associations or 501(c)(3)s. When I checked late yesterday, there were only 1,049 public comments. Of the 30 or so I viewed, all essentially were telling the IRS to leave us and our First Amendments rights alone. The rule will not allow educational activities, something the TEA Party does well. Leaving a public comment is easy. Below are the details I published along with my conference call with Senator Ted Cruz yesterday. I hope you will read that post here, but wanted to cull down the details of public commenting for you. Make your voice heard. This is a direct government attack on free speech:

To leave your comment on the website, go here. In the big blue-outlined “Search” box, enter this citation: IRS REG-134417-13 and hit “search.” You will be taken to this page. As of this moment, there are two items on the page. The first is one we’re interested in and it reads “Guidance for Tax-Exempt Social Welfare Organizations on Candidate-Related Political Activities.” Click the “Comment Now! button and a you will be taken to a comment box to submit your opinion. If you want to check out what is already being said, click the “Open Docket Folder” under the“Comment Now! button.
For more detail on exactly what this rule change means, here are details from the Nevada County TEA Party:

 The proposed rules would prohibit as “candidate-related political activities,” all of the following:
- Voter Registration
-  Candidate Forums and Debate
- Voter Guides
- Voting Records of Incumbents
- Public statements by officers and leaders of (c)(4)s that reference incumbents and candidates
- Communications include radio, TV, written, newspaper, internet, phones and oral if can reach 500 people
- If voting records or other statements are posted on website-and remain on website within “blackout” period, converted to a candidate-related political expenditure
- Applies to volunteer activities sponsored by organization
- “Candidates” include all public offices, executive, legislative and judicial-partisan and nonpartisan, and officers in a “political organization”
- Contributions to a c4 that engages in any “CRPA” will be treated as 100% political
- “Express advocacy” uses broader definition, includes “reject” as a magic ‘word’ and adopts a subjective test (communication is perceived as having electoral meaning…)
The proposed rules do NOT include:
- Labor Unions
- Trade Associations
- 501c3 organizations
ONLY 501(c)(4) groups.

Note: that the Wall Street Journal study documented $4.4 billion in political expenditures by labor unions between 2005-2011.

Suggested talking points may include:
- Discriminatory by only applying to 501(c)(4) organizations
- Violates First Amendment Rights of Citizens and Organizations
- Rules are complicated, complex and will burden small citizen groups
- Political and lobbying activities ARE for the social welfare and the public good.
Give examples of things that (c)(4)s should be able to do without government interference, taxation and reporting:
- Candidate forums and debates
- Nonpartisan Voter registration
- Get-out-the-vote
- Issue guides
- Voting records of incumbents
- Grassroots lobbying 365 days per year!
- Volunteer programs should NOT be subject to taxation

The following are snippets of a few comments to give you the flavor of what people are saying:

The IRS is responsible for collecting taxes and the interpretation and enforcement of the Internal Revenue Code.
The IRS is not allowed to supersede the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America which allows FREE SPEECH.
It’s clear through this proposed rule (IRS REG-134417-13) that the IRS is not concerned with the social welfare of the American people nor does it value an informed electorate. This Regulation, if enacted, begs for political chicanery of the highest magnitude.
Hello, Im asking that the IRS proposed regulation not be put into place as it would require the silence of numerous non-profit organizations and wouldn’t enable them to conduct…
The IRS has become politicized and that is not a good thing. When the IRS is used to intimidate legitimate differences between people in their political philosophies, that is the…
Why does the IRS feel it can legislate free speech rights to any American Citizen or groups of citizens? The rule proposed is deliberately Unconstitutional in every possible way…
Do not adopt this measure. The rule change is an attempt to quash critics of incumbent administrations. It is apparent to me, as a citizen of our great country, that this…
Leave free speech alone. Consentrate on getting revenue from illegal aliens. That would be great.
A good number of comments were identical. If you can, change it up some, so that it is obvious you are giving them your own, unique thoughts. If you don’t have time, then copy. The important thing is, to let it be known that you understand what government is doing, and you don’t like it, and you will do all you can to stop it. (Cartoon courtesy of BobGorrellArt)

Posted by Maggie @ Maggie's Notebook

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