Sen. Baucus Called on IRS to Investigate Activities of Tax-Exempt Groups in 2010

By Joe Schoffstall | May 14, 2013 | 11:20am EDT

On September 29, 2010, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D- Montana) wrote a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) calling for an investigation into the political activities of tax-exempt groups.

In the letter sent to then-IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, Baucus wrote:

"The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over revenue matters, and the Committee is responsible for conducting oversight of the administration of the federal tax system, including matters involving tax-exempt organizations. The Committee has focused extensively over the past decade on whether tax-exempt groups have been used for lobbying or other financial or political gain."

It continues, "The central question examined by the Committee has been whether certain charitable or social welfare organizations qualify for the tax-exempt status provided under the Internal Revenue Code. Recent media reports on various 501(c)(4) organizations engaged in political activity have raised serious questions about whether such organizations are operating in compliance with the Internal Revenue Code. The law requires that political campaign activity by a 501(c)(4), (c)(5) or (c)(6) entity must not be the primary purpose of the organization. If it is determined the primary purpose of the 501(c)(4), (c)(5) and (c)(6) organization is political campaign activity the tax exemption for that nonprofit can be terminated."

The action worried many Republicans, who quickly hit back against the request. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) both stated that it threatened to "chill the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights."

Yesterday, Sen. Hatch wrote a letter to the very senator who requested a review into tax exempt groups in 2010, Max Baucus, calling for a bi-partisan investigation and special committee hearing into the explosive reports that the IRS targeted Conservative groups.

Perhaps even more ironic is that yesterday Sen. Baucus himself chastised the IRS after the reports were released. "The American people have questions for the IRS and I intend to get answers. The IRS will now be the ones put under additional scrutiny," Baucus said and called for hearings into the matter.

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