Idaho Congressman Simpson today supported passage of H.R. 3865, the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014. This legislation prohibits for one year a proposal by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to unilaterally change the regulations, in place for fifty years, which allow certain organizations to engage in political activities. The bill passed 243 to 176.
“It is clear that this proposed regulation by the Obama Administration would primarily impact conservative organizations, without impacting labor unions,” said Simpson. “It is an attempt to suppress the political activity of the Administration’s opponents. This legislation would stop it.”
The proposed regulation would impact 501(c)(4) organizations by redefining non-partisan voter registration and candidate forum activities as political campaign intervention. 501(c)(4) organizations are non-profit groups like civic leagues and volunteer fire departments that are primarily engaged in promoting social welfare. However, 501(c)(4)’s can engage in political activity, so long as the majority of their money is spent on social welfare. Many conservative organizations are registered as 501(c)(4)’s.
The change proposed by the Obama Administration could result in many of these organizations, including many conservative groups, losing their tax exempt status. Notably, the regulation, as revealed by the Administration, would not apply to 501(c)(3) charitable organizations or 501(c)(5) unions.
This change comes on the heels of a scandal at the IRS in which conservative groups were targeted for increased scrutiny in seeking tax exempt status. The House has also previously passed H.R. 2009, the Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act of 2013, to prevent the IRS from enforcing any provision of Obamacare.
The investigation into the targeting of conservative groups at the IRS is still ongoing.