Last year we asked you whether you had forgiven the IRS yet for the 501(c)(4) social welfare “targeting” scandal. It is clear that many Tea Party groups have not. A class action lawsuit accuses the IRS of singling out Tea Party members and other conservative organizations for unfair and illegal “intensive and intrusive scrutiny.”
The law suit was originally filed last year, but it continues to grow both with new allegations and new class members. The class now alleges that the IRS hired employees with specific bias against conservative political parties and that the employees requested extensive and unreasonable documents and information.
The class is led by NorCal Tea Party Patriots, which claims that it suffered years of delays and expenses and was forced illegally to make admissions about its private beliefs and activities.
But the IRS isn’t taking this lying down. 501(c)(4)s may self-declare their exemption. That is, they are not required to apply for exemption. By doing so, argues the IRS, each of these organizations opens themselves to inspection by the IRS. As a result, in its motion to dismiss the class action, the IRS claims that the class members have no right to damages for unauthorized inspection of confidential information (i.e., they invited the IRS to investigate them).
While we wait for the court to sort it all out, remember that if your 501(c)(4) has had its exemption application pending for more than 120 days, it may be eligible for expedited review.