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Tag Archive: 501(c)4

As IRS Takes Aim at Fake Social Welfare Organizations, Will Some in Congress Take Aim at the IRS?

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Internal_Revenue_Service_logo In a surprise announcement, the IRS has opened the door to re-writing outdated rules regarding political activity of so-called social welfare organizations. The move is long overdue. Over a year ago, Sunlight urged the agency to take a look at rules that have not been updated since 1959. We also told Congress that after it held hearings on the IRS’s targeting of groups with conservative sounding names, it should provide guidance for the agency as to how it could more effectively, efficiently and fairly enforce the law. Even though that congressional leadership never materialized, the IRS should be congratulated for taking the first steps toward reforming its broken rules. The IRS doesn’t have an easy road ahead of it. In the best case scenario, rules won’t be finalized until after the 2014 elections, ensuring that fake social welfare organizations—organizations like Crossroads GPS on the right and Patriot Majority USA on the left—will continue spending the vast majority of their money on election-related activity, not "social welfare." The IRS will face obstruction from congressional Republicans (in the form of legislation attempting to ban the IRS from enacting new rules, threats to its budget, or still more hearings) as well as court challenges that will further threaten the adoption of clear regulations.

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Politically connected nonprofits have long bested the IRS

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The Republican Governors Public Policy Committee is a nonprofit organization with a multimillion dollar budget devoted to "promoting social welfare and efficient and responsible government practices" according to the most recent tax return it filed with the Internal Revenue Service. On its website, the group tells a different story: It's "the official policy organization of the nation’s Republican governors."

As House Government Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Darrell Issa, R-Calif., prepares to broaden his investigation of the Internal Revenue Service's admitted targeting of conservative groups ...

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Reporter’s notebook: How we came up with that campaign finance maze

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If it makes you all feel any better, campaign finance is hard for us too.

At the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group, we make a speciality of money in politics reporting, so when the dark money groups that we often cover burst into the headlines -- on reports that the Internal Revenue Service was denying the coveted tax exempt status to Tea Party groups -- we figured it was time to put what we know about the campaign finance ecosystem out there.

The process turned out to be revealing, if painful.

You can see the final product here. But we learned a lot ...

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Why does the IRS regulate political groups? A look at the complex world of campaign finance

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The controversy over the Internal Revenue Service's handling of applications for non-profit status from Tea Party groups has put a spotlight on a subject with which we at the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group are all too painfully familiar: The migraine-producing complexity of the nation's campaign finance system. To shed some light on the ongoing debate, we've decided to share what we know. As often is the case with systems worthy of Rube Goldberg, it's easier to draw than to describe.

Graphic by Jenn Cheng

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Final look at outside spenders’ 2012 return on investment

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The controversy over the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of Tea Party groups has put a spotlight on the non-profit groups that played such a prominent role in the 2012 campaign. The groups have become popular conduits for political funds because, unlike political action committees, they do not have to disclose donors to the Federal Election Commission. While most of the groups whose applications the IRS slow-walked were relatively small givers, many groups that did land non-profit status gave big. Check out this page to see the "social welfare" non-profits who made political expenditures in the 2012 election cycle. Because of the interest, the Sunlight Foundation has decided to update the Return on Investment feature we first published the day after the election. This analysis looks at more than 100,000 lines of itemized expenditures made by outside spending groups (super PACS as well as 501(c) non profits) and calculates the amount of money that went toward the desired result on Election Day. Our update accounts for updated filings and amendments at the Federal Election Commission and our own data cleanup. For more details on each group listed below click on the “see ROI breakdown” button. You can sort by general election spending, candidate, support or oppose, and election result.

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Tangled web: The IRS role in campaign finance

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Dark Money

With the burgeoning scandal about the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) singling out small conservative nonprofit groups for scrutiny, upcoming hearings, and a Justice Department investigation, the public is getting a quick schooling in the byzantine ways tax exempt "social welfare" groups get involved in the political game. 

A long list of nonprofit groups spend big on politics. They run the gamut from well known organizations of long standing, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Crossroads GPS, the brainchild of Republican strategist Karl Rove. As reported in the New York Times, even as it was apparently targeting small Tea ...

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