Like most people, I was originally horrified by the reported targeting of tea party groups ("IRS head forced to go," May 16). I am now less horrified.
It is reported that various tea party groups were requesting tax exempt status as a "social welfare" group. We now need to know the definition of a "social welfare" group. Entities operating under the umbrella of the tea party would not appear to qualify. Of course, this tempest in a tea pot does highlight some interesting issues. Do we wish to expand the number of entities claiming tax exempt status or should we limit the number of groups not paying taxes?
Locally, it was reported that the Knights of Columbus donated a few hundred thousand dollars (I've seen different figures quoted) to a lobbying group protesting marriage equality in Maryland. How does this tax exempt organization get away with assisting in this blatantly political activity and why would anyone contribute to such a charity when their contributions are misused? I believe that the IRS should more carefully scrutinize all requests for tax exempt status and should review the current activities of those entities already enjoying these benefits.
The tax exempt status of religious entities needs to be revisited. Obviously, houses of worship and some additional affiliates should continue to have tax exempt status but the very long list should be pared down. It now seems to me that the really stupid and lazy thing that the IRS did was to search for words such as "patriot" and "tea party" which is blatantly discriminatory. However, I don't believe that the tea party or any other entity should get a free pass.
The totality of the application for tax exempt status should be carefully examined . This careful and thorough examination should be universally applied. This is an issue that can be fixed.
Edward McCarey McDonnell, Baltimore