Bloomberg News: ACORN was Target of IRS

ACORN ACORN International

acornNew Orleans   The headline in the New Orleans Times-Picayune read, “ACORN, based in N.O., was a target of IRS,” so it caught my eye.  The story to no surprise concerned revelations of recently available unedited documents from the IRS released by Congressman Elijah Cummings from Maryland and others that ACORN and its successor organizations were lined up for extra scrutiny.  This doesn’t mean that many did not receive the IRS designations they sought and in fact to my knowledge all of them did, but there were delays, additional questions, and hoops to crawl through. 

Heck, ACORN International is now in the second year of an interminable IRS investigation by a special forensic accountant based in the north Texas metroplex.  The fellow is likeable and relaxed, and so am I, so he’s got his job, and I’ve got mine, and eventually it will be finished without any big harrumph I assume, because both of us know that we’ve done nothing wrong, though we were late on some paperwork, and by god, he’s right, we need to do better.

Contrary to the Republicans and the Tea Party folks, I just assume that if you are going to do the work we do, organizing lower income and working families around the world for justice and power, this kind of governmental review comes with the turf.  Nonetheless, the more I read about their whining, the more they are about to convince me that maybe they are right, and folks doing what we do should not have a root canal kind of experience every time we interact with the government. 

            What do I know?  Anyway, checkout the original article from Richard Rubin of Bloomberg News entitled:

IRS Nonprofit Scrutiny Included Look for ACORN Successors

By Richard Rubin – Aug 20, 2013 Bloomberg News

The Internal Revenue Service told its employees to watch out for applications for tax-exempt status by successors to ACORN, the now-defunct Democratic-leaning community organizing group.

Congressional Democrats, who released the recently unredacted information today, maintained that such scrutiny undermines the idea that the U.S. tax agency’s policing of political groups was limited to Tea Party organizations.

ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, disbanded in 2010 after hidden videos showed workers offering advice on opening a prostitution business.

“This new information should put a nail in the coffin of the Republican claims that the IRS’s actions were politically motivated or were targeted at only one side of the political spectrum,” Representative Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, said in a statement. “It is time for House Republicans to stop trying to score political points and start to focus on reforming the IRS.”

Republicans have insisted that Tea Party groups and other organizations that aid Republicans were subject to longer IRS delays as they awaited confirmation of their tax-exempt status.

The IRS disclosed in May that it had put Tea Party groups’ applications under extra scrutiny, and apologized. Since then, at least four IRS officials have been pushed out of their jobs, congressional committees have opened inquiries and the Justice Department has begun a criminal probe.

The information released today after the IRS relaxed its reading of privacy rules doesn’t explain in detail how ACORN-like groups were to be treated. ACORN conducted voter registration drives and helped prepare tax returns for low-income people.

The new information also shows that “Emerge” groups were subject to extra attention from the IRS. In 2012, the IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of affiliates of Emerge America, which trained Democratic candidates for office and was deemed too political to qualify for tax-exempt status.

The IRS’s treatment of Emerge shouldn’t be compared with how Tea Party groups were singled out by name, said Ali Ahmad, a spokesman for the Republican-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“The fact that Emerge was initially approved for tax-exempt status, but had it revoked after its improper behavior came to light, underscores how much more stringent the IRS was with Tea Party applicants,” he said in a statement.