Bloomberg View Calls for Obama, IRS to Change Rules to Distinguish Political Activities

Bloomberg View: “President Barack Obama, who’s pretty good with words himself, could easily order the IRS to change its language. That would help curb the influence of dark money, political contributions that are shielded from public view, which amounted to some $200 million in 2014 – most of it spent on negative advertisements.”

“The IRS has been studying how to tighten its rules for nearly a year and is expected to release a proposal early in 2015. Returning to the statute’s “exclusively” standard is not a feasible solution: That would eliminate tax exemptions for nearly all large nonprofit organizations, from hospitals to universities. So the goal must be a rule that prohibits such organizations from engaging in campaign-related activity.”

“That’s no easy task, but it can be done. Obama should direct the IRS commissioner, John Koskinen, to draw bright lines between social-welfare organizations and political committees, so that the latter cannot dress up as the former. This also would allow the IRS to spend less time policing political spending, work for which it is spectacularly ill-suited.”

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