03.10.2014 0

Reason.com is wrong, tax-deductible charities should follow the law

reasonBy Bill Wilson

In his recent piece supposedly rebutting my recent op-ed in Investor’s Business Daily concerning alleged violations of Canadian tax law by several left-wing foundations, Reason.com managing editor J.D. Tuccille on February 26 in “Conservative Activist Says It’s His Turn To Use the IRS as a Political Bludgeon” demonstrates skills that should immediately make him employable at the New York Times, Washington Post, or the Daily Worker.  He not-so-subtly plays the game of bait and switch while riding his high moral horse into circular logic.

First, I do in fact believe that organizations exempt from taxation and providing their donors with a tax deduction — like Reason.com — should abide by the law in order to keep the special status.  That goes double for a private family foundation worth tens of billions of dollars, for example like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which has escaped taxation for decades and whose money was at least partly behind the groups now being investigated by the Canada Revenue Agency for excessive lobbying.  Why Mr. Tuccille feels otherwise is difficult for me to understand.

The bait and switch comes in when Mr. Tuccille implies that I am equating the current IRS scandal of abuse of Tea Party groups with a call for investigating possible illegal activity by a wide range of tax exempt, tax deductible environmental-radical groups and their funders, chief among them the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Tides Foundation in opposing the Canadian oil sands extraction and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Pointing to tax audits of environmental groups performed by the Canada Revenue Agency under that country’s conservative government, Wilson calls for the U.S. to do the same south of the border once Republicans are back in control. And he makes no bones about the fact that this would be tit-for-tat retaliation for the last round of politicized thuggery by the IRS,” Tuccille wrote.

The Tea Party groups were merely asking for permission to exist.  The IRS has used its power to impede them.  Meanwhile the radical-Greens and their foundation backers may in fact be openly violating the law if they have breached Canadian lobbying restrictions on charities, or even those imposed under U.S. law since foreign lobbying is covered as well.  Big difference, Mr. Tuccille.

But ignoring facts and hiding in the stale dodge of moral equivalence is a hallmark of the mainstream media and not befitting something published under the Reason masthead.

I can only speculate on possible justifications for distorting my position and attempting to undercut the larger message of possible tax violations by billion-dollar foundations in the context of a legitimate government investigation by our number one trading partner.  Is it to defend the Green-vandals who are crippling America’s economic future?  Or, is it to provide political cover of the hard-leftist goals of the big family foundations?  No matter.

So we are clear, at no time do I advocate having the IRS or any government agency be used as a tool for political retribution for one side or the other.  Mr. Tuccille and I would probably agree that the best solution is the outright abolition of the IRS and repeal of the 16th Amendment.  But if our representative government enacts laws tied to the grant of freedom from the tax system, and the benefit of state subsidy via tax deductions, then the law needs to be followed.

And while it may pain Mr. Tuccille to accept it, there was at least enough evidence that the radical green cabal in America and Canada was over the line for the Canada Revenue Agency to open an investigation into no less than seven such foundations: The David Suzuki Foundation, Tides Canada, West Coast Environmental Law, The Pembina Foundation, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, and Ecology Action Centre.

Given the Canadian investigation, it would be irresponsible for the IRS not to enforce the law here as well, and to conduct its own audits.  If it is shown that they are violating the law with excessive lobbying, yes, shut them down. Is Reason’s position that the law governing charitable organizations should not be enforced?

Bill Wilson is a board member of Americans for Limited Government. 

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