Thursday, May 16, 2013
Business as usual at the IRS
Having had a personal experience with a small nonprofit group that was trying to obtain a related form of tax exemption, the 501(c)3, I must say the Tea Partiers have nothing to bitch about. Thirteen months for their paperwork to get processed? Pshaw. That's business as usual for the IRS. The group I was involved with was a local historical society -- an extremely small and poor group with an annual income of barely $1,000 (most of which goes for paying for liability insurance on a community hall) -- that was raising funds to do repair work on said hall. We decided to open a savings account so the money could earn a pittance in interest while it sat in the bank. At some point the account did generate interest; the bank sent the requisite information to the IRS, and, lo and behold, a year or two later our group began receiving correspondence asking for information on our budget, i.e., just how much money were we raking in annually and why weren't we paying taxes on it? Apparently if you show signs of having any income high enough that it can be rounded up to a whole dollar amount, the Internal Revenue Service wants its cut. That's when our correspondence with the IRS began.
They'd send us a letter, usually accompanied by a form of some sort. We'd respond. Several months would go by. They'd send us another letter. We'd respond. This went on for well over a year. The process was neither fast nor easy. It required multiple forms, a thick stack of copies of our financial records and incorporation papers, and a lot of patience. Eventually, a letter did arrive saying that our organization did indeed qualify for tax exemption.
In short, the length of time the process took for the Tea Party groups was totally within the norm for the way the IRS does business, regardless of whether it's with organizations or with individuals. They are the government. Nothing they do is fast or easy.
Incidentally, I do find it a tad bizarre that organizations that devote their time and energy to complaining that the government is inefficient should express surprise that the bureaucracy moved slowly. I also find it highly ironic that the same folks who rant about the need to downsize government are now saying (as I heard on NPR yesterday) that the IRS needs to hire more staff so applications don't take a year to process. The stupid, it burns.