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Topics: House Republicans

Don't let the IRS silence critics of President Obama's policies

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Opinion,Op-Eds,Barack Obama,House of Representatives,IRS,House Republicans,Nonprofits

What happens when one voices opposition to “big government?” Under President Obama, you may be targeted by the Internal Revenue Service.

They will audit you, show up at your place of employment and sic other executive agencies on your family or business.

Now, the Obama administration intends to unilaterally modify the tax code in further efforts to silence political speech.

In November, the IRS announced that it would completely transform the 501(c)(4) classification used by groups organized for the purposes of “social welfare.”

From veterans' organizations to civic education programs, many important nonprofits fall under this designation.

Currently, contributions to these organizations are not tax deductible for their donors, but these groups are not required to pay taxes to the U.S. federal government.

These nonprofits are allowed to participate in the political process, within limits, and typical activities include voter education, advocacy and holding town halls. Many free market groups file under this classification.

The new rules would virtually halt such activities. Plus, the IRS would require 501 (c)(4) non-profits to pay taxes, knowing full well that these groups cannot afford to do so.

Their intent is to force groups into reclassifying under a different category of the tax code, as 527 non-profits. The 527 groups are not taxed on their donations, but they are required to disclose their donors to the Obama administration.

Conservative groups would be forced to choose: Change their classification to a 527 non-profit and open up their donors to abuse at the hands of Washington bureaucrats, or shut down all-together because they can’t afford the taxes levied against them if they remain a 501(c)(4) organization.

The Obama administration argues that the current rules governing 501(c)(4) groups are too complicated for them to administer properly.

Their complaint is pretty perplexing, considering the rules governing these non-profits aren’t new. In fact, they were established in 1959. Fifty-five years seem like plenty of time for the IRS to figure out how to regulate nonprofits.

Unsurprisingly, such changes to the IRS code won’t affect a key Democrat political beneficiary — labor unions.

These groups, while nearly identical to 501 (c)(4) non-profits, fall under the 501 (c)(5) classification. Their regulations would remain untouched in this IRS overhaul, so they would be free to continue politicking as they have in years past.

This is an obvious political move by the Obama administration, as labor unions contribute the vast majority of their political donations to Democrats.

What can be done to stop this? So far, tens of thousands of patriots have registered concerns by submitting public comments to the IRS. Freedom-loving Americans refuse to be silenced.

In the meantime, congressional Republicans are working legislatively to prevent the IRS from silencing political dissent through manipulation of the tax code by executive fiat.

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives is voting on a measure that would prohibit the IRS from implementing its proposed new regulations on tax-exempt groups for one year.

This will give Congress the ability to continue its investigation into the IRS targeting scandal and long-term oversight over the agency.

Sadly, this is just the latest in the never-ending saga of Obama’s executive overreach and use of the federal government to punish those with whom he disagrees.

Public engagement and the Republican resolve are critical to fighting it. Together, we can stop this government abuse.

Rep. Tom Price, M.D. represents Georgia's sixth congressional district. He is vice chairman of the House Committee on the Budget, and a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over the IRS.
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