Archive for the ‘charitable giving’ Category

Why is the U.S. Olympic Committee Tax Exempt?

Every two years, I sit in front of my TV watching the Olympics. Like clockwork, in the midst of some competition I can’t understand, my mind wanders to tax wonkdom and I ask myself: Why is the U.S. Olympic Committee a tax exempt organization? The law says tax exempt status is granted to groups that “foster national or […]

Obama Will Try to Clarify the Role of Tax-Exempt Groups in Politics

The Obama Administration is trying to untangle the controversy over the growing role of 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations in politics by creating a new category of banned candidate-related activity. I wish it all the luck in the world. Treasury and the IRS will propose regulations that aim to clarify what these groups may and may […]

Do Campaign Finance Middle-Men Deserve Tax-exempt Status?

Thanks to the campaign watchdog organization Center for Responsive Politics and National Public Radio, we’ve learned more about the tactics of some political organizations that enjoy tax-exempt status. The Center has unpacked the dealings of tax-exempt groups that exist merely to funnel political money from anonymous donors to 3rd party non-profits that in turn buy […]

Can Foundation Giving Relate Better to Society’s Needs Over Time?

Charitable organizations form a vital part of America’s safety net. Ideally, foundations would be able to make greater payouts in hard economic times when needs are greatest. Unfortunately, the design of today’s excise tax on foundations undermines and in fact discourages such efficiency. Under current law, private foundations are required to pay an excise tax […]

Get IRS Out of the Business of Regulating Political Speech

A final thought, I hope, on the IRS/tea party scandal: Why do we want the IRS  regulating political speech?  It seems crazy on its face, yet that is exactly the system we have created. True, the agency bungled its scrutiny of conservative political groups seeking tax-exemptions. But should it even be deciding which political organizations should get favored […]

The IRS and the Tea Party: Treasury Report Finds Big Bungling but Small Scandal

The IRS’s botched processing of requests for tax-exempt status by political groups isn’t the new Watergate. In fact, as scandals go, it is barely the Days Inn–based on what we’ve learned from a much-anticipated report by the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). That any report by TIGTA is much anticipated says something about […]

IRS and the Targeting of the Tea Party and Other Groups

To help clarify  whether IRS incorrectly, unfairly, or illegally targeted the Tea Party and other conservative groups, here are the  answers to a few basic questions. Is it improper for IRS to target specific groups?  Almost every contact the IRS makes with select taxpayers derives from targeting. Because  its  resources are constrained, the IRS conducts […]

The IRS Was Wrong to Single Out Tea Parties, But Many Political Groups Should Not be Tax-Exempt

Let’s start with the obvious. Those IRS employees who singled out conservative groups for scrutiny over their tax-exempt status were wrong, wrong, wrong.  Any whiff of politics at the agency is unacceptable, and this is far more than a whiff. In time, we shall see how far up the agency food chain the scandal goes. […]

What if the Outrage over Excessive Welfare Extended to the Tax Code?

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has created quite a stir with his estimates that every household below the poverty level receives an average of $168-a-day (or about $61,000-a-year) in government welfare. Sessions’ calculations are extremely controversial and overstate the amount of government assistance for those in poverty. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume he’s right. […]

Congress May Not Rewrite the Tax Code in 2013, But It Could Make It Simpler

As regular readers of Tax Vox know, I don’t believe there is much chance President Obama and Congress will agree on individual broad-based tax reform in 2013. Without a deal on how much this new tax system should raise, talking about a big rewrite is futile. However, Obama and Congress still have an opportunity to do something very […]