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Mike Curtin speaks out against tax abuse

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In a recent session of the Ohio House, Rep. Mike Curtin, D-Marble Cliff, explained why he opposes the Republican sponsored resolution “urging the IRS to not review tax-exempt applications based on an organization’s presumed political affiliation.” Here is an excerpt of what he said.

I rise to oppose House Concurrent Resolution 27 because it fails to focus on the real problem. The United States has been experiencing—and continues to experience—a flood of applications from partisan political organizations, seeking tax-exempt status as charitable or social-welfare organizations.  The number of applications for 501(c) 4 status, which is supposed to be for social-welfare organizations, has more than doubled in recent years. It is evident to all that many of these applications are coming from organizations whose primary purpose is partisan political activity.

Does anyone doubt that the primary purpose of Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS is to win elections for conservatives and Republicans, and to raise money for those objectives in a manner that provides anonymity to donors? Of course not.

Does anyone doubt that the primary purpose of Bill Burton’s Priorities USA was to help re-elect President Obama and to promote the president’s political objectives, and to raise money for those objectives in a manner that provides anonymity to donors? Of course not.

The biggest cancer in our American politics today, other than the malignancy of hyper-partisan gerrymandering of legislative districts, is the twisting, the perversion, the prostitution of our laws governing tax-exempt organizations.

501(c)4 status is supposed to be for social-welfare organizations. These are organizations that are supposed to exist to promote the common good—to raise money in support of school extracurricular programs, veterans’ causes, community festivals and the like. 501(c)4 and other tax-exempt categories were not created to provide deep cover for partisan activity, but in the 2010 elections, 501(c)4 organizations spent $92 million to influence elections and $254 million in 2012.

We should be outraged—all Americans should be outraged—at this outright prostitution of our tax code.  If we are going to be passing resolutions, our resolutions should be calling upon the IRS to get tough – much, much tougher than it has been so far, in scrutinizing all of these groups in great detail, and rescinding the tax-free designation already given to groups whose primary activities clearly have been partisan and political.

We are allowing these organizations to masquerade as social-welfare organizations, using our tax dollars to subsidize their activities, and using their tax-exempt status to hide their donors. This resolution is killing any remaining hope for open, honest, transparent election activity.

How can anyone disagree with what Curtin is saying? If you do, help me understand why.

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