Outrageous. And guess who’s name comes up?
At the same time the Internal Revenue Service was targeting tea-party groups, the tax agency took the unusual step of trying to impose gift taxes on donors to a prominent conservative advocacy group formed in 2007 to build support for PresidentGeorge W. Bush‘s Iraq troop surge.
The probe of the group, Freedom’s Watch, began in the unit led by Lois Lerner, the IRS official already under scrutiny for her role in the more recent targeting of conservative groups.
In February 2010, the same month the tea-party targeting started, according to a recent inspector general’s report, Freedom’s Watch was subjected to an IRS audit that focused largely on its political activities, an uncommon but not unprecedented action, election lawyers say. The probe broadened into other areas, including executive compensation.
About a year later, as many as five donors to Freedom’s Watch were subjected to IRS audits of their contributions that sought to impose gift taxes on their donations to the group, according to lawyers and former officials of Freedom’s Watch.
Tax experts say that effort was highly unusual. The IRS generally hadn’t sought to impose the gift tax on donations to tax-exempt groups such as Freedom’s Watch in at least 20 years, perhaps longer, following an unfavorable court ruling and changes in the law by Congress, according to lawyers and IRS documents.
Once again, the apologists will say what the IRS did was “legal.” The problem with that argument is the law apparently was applied equally to other groups. As more and more information becomes available, the more evidence we’re seeing of potential fifth and fourteenth amendment violations.