ON-Lion Letter

In June, the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) in Alexandria, Va., released a report by California election-law attorney Allison R. Hayward, Eternal Inconsistency:  The Stunning Variability in, and Expedient Motives Behind the Tax Regulation of Nonprofit Advocacy Groups, on the history of how the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has "been almost universally hostile toward nonprofits" for nearly a century.

"Lois Lerner is not the first IRS official hostile to speech rights, but it's time she was the last,” according to CCP president David Keating.  "Allison Hayward's study shows we can't trust the IRS to act as the speech police."

Hayward concludes the paper by urging readers to "draw several lessons from this history.  First, the Internal Revenue Service, while effective at raising revenue, is a poor agency to task with regulating advocacy organizations, especially those that cannot offer donors a tax deduction.  Only trivial amounts of revenue are at stake.  Whether a certain message, or viewpoint, or advertisement, or tone is proper should not be a concern of the tax man.

"Second," she continues, "Congress must resist the temptation to even political scores through tax legislation.  Not only is it poor governance, but it rarely works."

"Finally, the courts should remain vigilant in protecting groups from Service overreach and congressional mischief.  While it remains a canard of legal analysis that nobody has a right to avoid paying taxes, in this context -- again -- revenue is not the issue.  Courts should feel free to identify and excise laws, even tax laws, which abridge political freedoms."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports CCP.

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