Merkley’s way would have prevented IRS mess


Published Jun 11, 2013 at 05:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

In the May 31 issue, Jack Cook wrote a letter where he said there was “documented involvement” by Sen. Jeff Merkley in the IRS targeting of conservative political groups. That’s all wrong.

Here’s what actually happened: Merkley co-wrote a letter to the IRS asking it to close the loophole that allows purely political groups to claim they are “social welfare” charities for tax purposes.

He asked the IRS to do what they should have done years ago — define what percentage of time 501(c)4 organizations can spend on activities that are not for social welfare. Right now, nobody knows what that percentage is — 25 percent, 49 percent, 99 percent? You tell us.

Merkley also says these groups should tell the public exactly what their percentages are. Personally, we’d love to hear those numbers from organizations we give money to.

Here’s where we agree with Cook: Nobody thinks the IRS should be targeting conservative (or liberal) groups more than anyone else when it comes to investigating who’s following the rules — not us, not Cook and not Merkley either.

Fact is, if the IRS did things Merkley’s way, we wouldn’t have had this mess in the first place. All these 501(c)4 groups would know what the rules were — and they’d either play by them or stop pretending to be charities. Who knows? We might even have a couple fewer negative ads on TV in 2016.

John Marvin and Alison Wells

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