Sept. 20, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Keep Tax-Exempt Groups Out of Politics | Commentary

Once all the background information is considered, a very different picture of what occurred in the Cincinnati IRS office begins to emerge. A small group of people were given a herculean task and little guidance about how to apply an unclear law. In an effort to do their job, these few employees devised an incredibly poor system to streamline the process and root out abusers of the law. These individuals are nonpartisan civil servants. They work under Democrats and Republicans alike and have no reason to target any group because of its political affiliation. Simply put, they never considered the political implications of their actions and made a shortsighted mistake. This is not an accurate depiction of how the IRS or these employees normally operate. Firing those involved will not solve the underlying problem. Only the Congress can do that by crafting better legislation.

Ultimately, the unfortunate situation at the IRS was created by the inaction of Congress to fix an outdated law. As the discussion surrounding tax reform ensues, there has been no better time than now to take action and rewrite section 501(c)(4). Abuse of this section is rampant and must be stopped. Tax-exempt status is a special designation in America and we should not allow organizations to misuse it for political purposes. The moment for excuses has passed. Times have changed and the law must change accordingly.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, was instrumental in helping to pass the Tax Reform Act of 1986. The Democrat represents New York’s 13th District, which includes Harlem and parts of the Bronx.

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