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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Is IRS Targeting Obama's Enemies?

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In 2010, American Thinker posted an interesting defense of a flat tax, noting that it would help preserve privacy and freedom of speech by eliminating the need for the federal government to know virtually every aspect of a taxpayer’s financial assets. Two years later, some people are seeing truth in the magazine's assessment that the administration may be using the Internal Revenue Service to silence its opposition.

Ohio Liberty Council, for instance, says they are being made to jump through hoops by the IRS, which has demanded certain documents in order for the group's process of acquiring non-profit status to move forward. OLC President Tom Zawistowski posted a letter on the organization's website detailing the difficulties:

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.

Besides its 19-month delay in answering the OLC, the IRS is requiring such a large amount of documents and information that a small organization such as the OLC would likely have to stop all other operations in order to comply.

The following are the IRS demands of the OLC:

• A hard copy printout of the website — A pdf file emailed to the IRS will not suffice

• A list of all social media outlets being used (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) including hard copy printouts of every posting

• A narrative description of every activity of [the] organization since June 30, 2010 (filing date). [The IRS does not want a mere description of an event, but full details, including who conducted it, their qualifications, who was allowed to take part in the activities and how they were selected, and if there was a fee, how much it was.]

• Details of the [OLC's] members, including their names, addresses, roles, plus a corporate federal ID of all organizations which are members of the Ohio Liberty Council.

Additionally, the IRS required the following from the OLC:

• Time, location and content schedule of each scheduled public event

• Copies of any and all handouts

• Names and credentials of all instructors and copies of any workshop materials used

• Identification of all speakers and copies of every speech

The letter sent to the OLC also indicates that the IRS will make public and post on the Internet all information received from the OLC. The Blaze views this statement as 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?”

Zawistowski notes that by the same logic, names of all buyers of Girl Scout cookies as well as all who attend church each week would have to be posted online.

According to The Blaze, the OLC's ordeal with the IRS is not an isolated incident:

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.

As mentioned earlier, some critics charge that the Obama administration is attempting to silence its opposition — opposition, for instance, to the ObamaCare contraceptive mandate. In a recent press release, the OLC indicated that it stands with the Catholic Church in that battle:

The Ohio Liberty Council (OLC) announced today that it supports the decision of the Catholic Church to refuse to comply with the ruling by the Health and Human Services Department concerning mandatory insurance coverage. The ruling says that under ObamaCare, Catholic institutions — including charities, hospitals and schools — will be required by law, to provide and pay for insurance coverage that includes contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures. If they do not, they will face fines in the millions of dollars which will put organizations like catholic hospitals and schools out of business. This decision has the full support of President Obama and his Administration.

Meanwhile, the timing of the IRS's seemingly absurd requests for documentation coordinates with the announcement of the Obama campaign's plans to mobilize its “Truth Team” members across the country, who will also seek to silence opposing voices.

During Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, a similar group of his supporters in Missouri took their agenda too far, vowing to arrest anyone who told “lies” about Obama, and did what they could to intimidate anyone who criticized him or his policies.

The Detroit Free Press reported on September 30, 2008,

A local television station’s coverage of a Missouri campaign "truth squad" on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has touched off a national Internet frenzy. What has prompted all the furor is that several members of the Obama’s "truth squad" in Missouri are prosecutors or members of law enforcement. They include St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer and St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch. All are Democrats.

Missouri's then-Governor Matt Blunt responded,

What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words. The party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment. This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights.

Because of possible political retribution — by way of an IRS audit — by the administration against its foes, American Thinker believes the federal tax code should be abolished in favor of a simple flat tax:

The fact that we have a tax system so vast and complex that it may be vindictively used as a political tool is unconscionable. Couple that with the fact that we have a president with a Chicago-brass-knuckles political background, and we have an environment chilling to free speech.

How many of Obama's political "enemies" have been cowed into silence due to fear of retribution via an unfriendly IRS tax audit? How many signatures are missing from petitions against the administration out of fear of arbitrary retribution? The IRS can ruin a completely innocent person by forcing an expensive and time-consuming defense against a vindictive audit.

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