WASHINGTON – Tennessee’s senators are worried the Internal Revenue Service might be targeting nonprofits affiliated with tea party organizations.
In a letter sent to IRS commissioner Douglas Schulman today, Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, along with ten other Republicans, said nonprofit organizations in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Texas have contacted them about IRS inquiries “perceived as excessive.”
The New York Times reported last week that the IRS has sent dozens of detailed questionnaires to tea party-backed organizations applying for nonprofit classification, part of a broader effort to compel politically oriented groups to defend their nonprofit tax status.
Alexander’s spokesman declined to disclose the identities of the organizations, citing privacy concerns, but the letter referenced the nonprofit sister organization of American Crossroads, a pro-Republican super PAC.
The senators said the IRS had asked some of those organizations to submit paperwork that “exceed(s) the scope of the typical disclosures required.”
They asked Schulman to explain the agency’s process for approving and renewing the tax-exempt status of nonprofit organizations, and asked if the agency typically requires such organizations to submit copies of social media posts, speeches and other publicly distributed written materials.
The IRS asked some groups requesting nonprofit status to disclose the names of all donors and the amounts given, the senators wrote.
“These specific requests for donor information appear to contradict the published IRS policy,” which requires nonprofits to disclose the identities only of donors who give $5,000 or more, they wrote.
“The extra scrutiny the IRS appears to be giving Tea Party-related nonprofits is disturbing, so I hope we find that the IRS is treating all tax-exempt organizations the same,” Alexander said in a statement Wednesday. “The government should not have what amounts to an enemies list based on what people or organizations say or believe.”
Corker said he hoped the IRS would clear up concerns raised by groups in Tennessee.
The senators also requested copies of correspondence between the IRS and Priorities USA, a nonprofit affiliated with a pro-Obama super PAC.