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Claim: IRS Won’t Grant Richmond Tea Party Tax Exempt Status (Updated)

1:16 PM, Feb 16, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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The Richmond Tea Party group is blasting the IRS for allegedly failing to grant tax exempt status to the pro-limited government organization. “The Internal Revenue Service has served Richmond Tea Party (RTP) with unreasonable requests to obtain a tax-exempt status, fitting the pattern of the Federal Government’s forcing liberty groups to spend inordinate time and money complying with their demands during this critical 2012 election year,” RTP claims in a press release.

According to the Richmond Tea Party, here’s the process that led to the “unreasonable documentation requests” from the IRS:

On December 28, 2009, RTP applied to become a 501(c)(4) organization. After nearly ten months, the IRS finally responded with a letter (dated September 17, 2010), requesting detailed documentation to satisfy 17 questions, giving RTP only a two-week window in which to finish. (As the response was curiously due on the opening day of the inaugural Virginia Tea Party Convention, for which RTP was a central organizer, we requested and received a two-week extension.) We fully complied, providing over 500 pages of documentation. We received no response for over a year. Eventually the IRS sent a letter dated January 9, 2012, thanking us for our “complete and thorough responses” from the first request, but then asking us to answer 12 additional questions in 53 separate parts, including the totally inappropriate request for a full list of our donors and volunteers. We were given the same two-week timeframe for completion. It should be noted that this most recent letter was issued on the same day that the IRS issued a new 45-section bulletin regarding applications for tax-exempt status.

 The IRS did not immediately respond to THE WEEKLY STANDARD’s request for comment.

The Richmond Tea Party claims this kerfuffle with the IRS reinforces their view of the government. “This illustrates everything the American people find unacceptable from their government,” the group says. “A simple request for tax-exempt status should not take years to complete, involve hundreds of pages of documentation, require hundreds of volunteer hours, and request private information we should never have to disclose. This grants the Federal Government the dangerous power to selectively stymie those voices with which they disagree, bogging them down in endless paperwork and compliance costs so that they are unable to spend time serving the principles they founded their organization to advance.”

By its own self-description, Richmond Tea Party favors limited government, constitutional adherence, fiscal responsibility, free markets, and virtue and accountability.

UPDATE: IRS spokesman Anthony Burke called to give the agency's official response to my inquiry: "The IRS is precluded by law from discussing specific taxpayer cases." He ended the conversation when I informed him we were on the record.

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