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Published: Wednesday, 5/15/2013

Toledo-area groups among those targeted by IRS

BLADE STAFF

Representatives of politically conservative organizations said Toledo-area groups were among those who struggled with tax-exempt status obstacles thrown up by the Internal Revenue Service.

Last week, the IRS acknowledged some conservative and Tea Party groups had been targeted for additional scrutiny in exemption applications.

John McAvoy, the northwest region coordinator for the Ohio Liberty Coalition, said the organization sought tax-exempt status several years ago. It was ultimately granted, but not before the IRS posed numerous questions of the organization, including requesting printouts of any social media outlets on which the organization publicized itself.

Mr. McAvoy said the organization was aware other organizations with similar political philosophies were being asked such questions. In February 2012, various groups gathered for a meeting in Lancaster, Ohio in which they swapped stories and shared information about requests the IRS was making.

The Ohio Liberty Coalition ultimately sent a letter back to the IRS acknowledging the request for more information but stating it was unreasonable and overly burdensome. The Ohio organization asked that its application be process based on information it had already supplied. Mr. McAvoy said the IRS granted the status a few months later.

Concerns about difficulties from the IRS caused Mr. McAvoy, who founded the Toledo Tea Party, to not seek nonprofit status for that group. He was concerned, based on others’ experiences that it would be a waste of time, energy, and postage stamps. He said the tea party group may seek tax-exempt status now that the issues have come to light.

The Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition, another regional group, balked at applying for tax-exempt status because of “rumblings” from other groups about IRS roadblocks. Instead, the board chairman Linda Bowyer said the coalition chose to register as a political action committee with the Federal Elections Commission. Ms. Bowyer said operating as a PAC requires more work to keep up with filing requirements, but said she thinks she’s “better off” dealing with that then the IRS.



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