Harassment, or the IRS Doing Its Job–Inconsistently?

Over at the National Memo, I have a piece about how evangelicals and anti-abortion groups are now claiming they’ve been harassed and intimidated by the IRS:

Even before the ink was dry on the Treasury Department Inspector General’s report on the IRS, Franklin Graham, son of evangelical icon Billy Graham, wrote a letter to President Obama, demanding that the president “take some immediate action to reassure Americans we are not in a new chapter of America’s history—repressive government rule.”

Graham contended he was in possession of proof of this dire scenario: Last year, he says, the IRS conducted an audit of two tax-exempt organizations he runs, Samaritan’s Purse and The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. To Graham, this is no coincidence. “[P]rofiling by the IRS,” he lectured the president, “was not limited to conservative organizations; indeed, it extended to religious charities—Jewish and Christian—as well.”

Since Graham’s letter hit the pages of Politico on Tuesday, a number of religious right organizations and individuals have claimed that the IRS targeted them for audits, held up their tax-exempt applications, or subjected them to intrusive questioning, all of which they claim amounts to orchestrated anti-Christian bias.

In Graham’s case, though, the IRS was doing exactly what it is supposed to do. His ministries, both 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, are barred from attempting to influence the outcome of elections, the precise activity for which Graham admits the agency audited them.

If Graham is right, he’s one of the very few religious organizations audited for electioneering, as the IRS has suspended such investigations owing to its own failure to promulgate the required regulations governing them. There’s more, though: what about the anti-abortion groups who got all the attention at last week’s Ways and Means Committee hearing? Read about that and more here.

 

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