Wall Street Journal: The Unresolved IRS Scandal
By Bradley A. Smith
May 10 marks the fifth anniversary of the revelation that President Obama’s IRS targeted conservative groups for more than two years prior to the 2012 presidential election.
While some of the faces at the IRS have changed, the law that enabled their misuse of power has not. Congress’s failure to address the problem leaves the U.S. democratic process vulnerable to further abuses…
The easy fix here would be for Congress simply to scrap restrictions on political activity by social-welfare organizations, thereby stripping the IRS of authority to decide which groups are “political committees” and which aren’t. In a democracy, political activity is part of social welfare. Such a change would not affect federal revenue, as contributions to social-welfare organizations are not tax-deductible. There would be no “subsidizing political activity.”
The Federal Election Commission-a bipartisan agency staffed by experts and created to oversee election-related activities-is the proper authority to determine whether an organization should be subject to regulation under campaign-finance laws. The IRS-an agency under control of the president, with no bipartisan checks, subject to congressional pressure, and tasked with collecting revenue-is not.
There is a long history of presidents from both parties using the IRS to harass political opponents. Democrats and Republicans alike should recognize that, fix the law, and get the IRS out of politics.