A group dedicated to preserving the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR)* has joined dozens, if not hundreds of other conservative groups nationwide in thinking they may have been the victim of harassment by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
“The TABOR Foundation,” based in Lakewood, was already established with 501(c)3 status. However, in 2011, the Foundation decided to create a “parallel” 501(c)4 with the IRS. In contrast with 501(c)3 organizations, which are primarily restricted to issues education, 501(c)4 organizations can (generally speaking) participate in a wider range of political activity.
More than one year after filing their first documents to create the (c)4, the IRS sent a letter to The TABOR Foundation asking for additional information. The request contained fourteen numbered questions, many of those containing several subsets of questions.
Among the many questions asked in the letter were such items as:
“…please provide each [board officer’s] names and addresses of each individual’s employer/business, the nature of their employment/business…”
“Please provide copies of agendas and/or descriptions of topics covered at each of the organization’s general meetings and events since inception.”
“Please submit copies of all publications and/or advertising materials that have been distributed or will be distributed.”
Click here to see a full copy of the letter, which is also embedded at the end of this story.
Also interesting is the fact that the letter, although written in late February of 2012, asks the would-be foundation to submit advertising and publication expenses for the future calendar year of 2013.
In a strange sequence of events, the foundation’s application for creation of a (c)4 organization was denied by the IRS, then approved, only to once again have the approved application revoked.
Earlier this month, an IRS official admitted that the agency had unfairly singled out groups seeking tax exempt status with words like “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in the organization name. The revelation has now unfolded into a nationwide scandal, creating congressional hearings, and which promises similar action still yet to come.
As the investigation into the IRS continues, some personnel within the agency have maintained that any unfair or potentially illegal singling out of conservative groups stemmed from “rogue” agents in Cincinnati. However, if this request for additional information to be submitted to the IRS also constitutes harassment by the agency, then this letter would belie that claim because it originated with IRS agent Elizabeth Marquez from the Laguna Niguel office in California. The letter to “The TABOR Foundation/Committee” bears a strong resemblance to another letter agent Marquez also sent from Laguna Niguel to the “Patriots Educating Concerned Americans Now” applicants in Redding California, a letter obtained and published by the “American Center for Liberty and Justice.”
Initially, when receiving the IRS letter “request for additional information,” Bob Foland, Executive Director of “the Tabor Foundation” said he made half-hearted jokes that it felt as though the group’s application was being heavily scrutinized. “It wasn’t until this stuff came out in the last few weeks that we thought we might have been targeted,” Foland says. “[At the time] we just couldn’t understand why the IRS was asking us so many questions for an organization as small as ours.”
*End of Report*
Todd Shepherd is the investigative reporter for the Independence Institute in Denver, Colorado. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of “CompleteColorado.com.” Send him tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Disclosure – Shepherd is employed by the Independence Institute, which actively works to maintain the integrity of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.