38The Inspector General’s report on the targeting of tea party groups by the IRS is now out, and I was hoping there might be some interesting tidbits now that we can see the whole thing. Not really, though. Mainly, it paints a drearily predictable picture of bureaucratic FUBARism, with various groups in various places either misunderstanding each other; not responding to each other; or assuming that stuff was getting done that, in fact, wasn’t getting done. Anyone who reads Dilbert regularly gets the picture.
But the soporific paragraph below actually tells us something pretty important. In fact, it’s the heart of the whole issue:
In April 2012, the Senior Technical Advisor to the Acting Commissioner, Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division, along with a team of EO function Headquarters office employees, reviewed many of the potential political cases and determined that there appeared to be some confusion by Determinations Unit specialists and applicants on what activities are allowed by I.R.C. § 501c4 organizations. We believe this could be due to the lack of specific guidance on how to determine the “primary activity” of an I.R.C. § 501c4 organization. Treasury Regulations state that I.R.C. § 501c4 organizations should have social welfare as their “primary activity”; however, the regulations do not define how to measure whether social welfare is an organization’s “primary activity.”