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Forum Post: Tea Partiers Don't Have a Good Legal Case Against the IRS

Posted 6 years ago on June 13, 2013, 6:55 p.m. EST by GirlFriday (17435)
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Beyond the First Amendment issues, legal experts who have reviewed the lawsuits think they have a limited chance of success, largely because the courts have very narrow authority to do what lawyers like Sekulow are asking them to do—that is, to award damages for alleged constitutional violations or order the IRS to recognize their nonprofit status.

Matthew Journy and Jeff Tenenbaum, tax lawyers at the DC firm Venable, analyzed Sekulow's complaint and concluded that the court is likely to dismiss 23 of the 25 plaintiffs straight away. Here's why: In one part of his case, Sekulow is suing under a section of the Internal Revenue code that allows a nonprofit to ask a judge to order the Treasury Department to recognize its nonprofit status if the IRS has either refused to do so or improperly delayed a determination. But that part of the code applies only to nonprofits seeking 501(c)(3) status, a tax-exempt designation that has tight restrictions on political activity and that allows donors to deduct their contributions from their taxes. Only 2 of the 25 plaintiffs in the case sought such a designation. The rest applied for 501(c)(4) status, which allows limited political activity but not tax-deductible contributions. These nonprofit entities are not covered by the statute Sekulow is suing under. Even if they were, 13 of the plaintiffs have already won the only real remedy available under that particular provision: tax-exempt status. (Sekulow didn't return a call for comment.)

The remaining two plaintiffs who might be allowed to proceed with legal action will still face major hurdles, particularly because their complaint, as it's currently written, isn't specific enough to meet the high bar the court requires, according to Journy and Tenenbaum.

All of the pending suits are asking a court to award punitive damages—even though the law of sovereign immunity expressly prevents the award of such damages against the government in most cases. In tax-exempt cases, punitive damages are only available under very limited circumstances that may not apply to many of the tea party plaintiffs.

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[-] 5 points by shadz66 (19985) 6 years ago

Hang on a minute, WHO funds the Tea-Baggers and how again ? Thus also consider ...

''An Astroturf campaign is a fake grassroots movement: it purports to be a spontaneous uprising of concerned citizens, but in reality it is founded and funded by elite interests. Some Astroturf campaigns have no grassroots component at all. Others catalyse and direct real mobilisations. The Tea Party belongs in the second category. It is mostly composed of passionate, well-meaning people who think they are fighting elite power, unaware that they have been organised by the very interests they believe they are confronting. We now have powerful evidence that the movement was established and has been guided with the help of money from billionaires and big business. Much of this money, as well as much of the strategy and staffing, were provided by two brothers who run what they call "the biggest company you've never heard of".

e tenebris, lux ...

[-] 3 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

'Zactly Except there isn't just a lack of unawareness. They aren't misguided. This is not a case of being bamboozled. This is lying through their dentures.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 6 years ago

Yep & shhhh but there's this aspect too : http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article24962.htm !!

sub rosa ...

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (33788) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 years ago

All the IRS ever had to say - was that it was doing it's job. It never had to go beyond that.

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

Yep. That's what makes this all the more fun.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33788) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 years ago

Truly makes the IRS along with the federal government look like chumps. It would be ROTFLMAO funny if it were not so sad.

[-] 3 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

Frankly, we should sue the hell out of the folks right back for a waste of tax dollars.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33788) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 years ago

I support that notion - Rolling Jubilee - to sue the assholes of the world.

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

That might work. It's definitely necessary.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33788) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 years ago

Damn straight it's necessary - anything and everything to forward sanity.


[-] -2 points by mercury (-41) 6 years ago

You mean pleading the Fifth?

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

Nah, it would be telling the truth, ya?

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33788) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 years ago

Get This - From Working Families:

Even the best of us make mistakes -- and public television just made a big one.

Because they were afraid of upsetting Tea Party billionaire and PBS donor David Koch, public television pulled funding for a documentary by Academy Award-nominated filmmakers on the corrosive role of money in politics. That means millions of PBS viewers won't have the chance to see the film Citizen Koch. David Koch's enormous wealth -- and $23 million in donations to public television as a board member of local PBS stations -- shouldn't give him the power to suppress programming that serves the public good.

Sign our petition: Koch money shouldn't influence public television programming -- we want to see Citizen Koch aired on PBS.

We're huge fans of public television, and I bet you are too. That's why we want to see it live up to its founding principles of serving the public interest -- not the private interests of wealthy donors like the Kochs. Citizen Koch's exploration of money in politics is exactly the type of debate that public television was started to help foster. But instead, big money has prevented the discussion from even starting.

What makes it even scarier is that right now the Koch brothers are attempting to buy the second-largest newspaper chain in America. Imagine how much more news they could censor and distort if the Kochs owned papers like the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

We hope that someday public broadcasting receives enough public funding so it won't be in the position of needing to take money from unsavory and ideological donors like the Koch brothers. Until then, we need to make sure these donations aren't having an outsize influence.

Add your name: Public television should stop the self-censorship and air the documentary Citizen Koch:


Thanks for your help, and we'll keep you posted,

Erica Sagrans Working Families

PS: You can watch the trailer for Citizen Koch here.


  1. "A word from our sponsor," New Yorker, 5/27/2013

  2. "L.A. Times Suitor Charles Koch Confirms Interest in Acquiring Newspapers," Hollywood Reporter, 6/5/2013

Facebook logoLike Working Families on Facebook. Follow @WorkingFamilies on Twitter.

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

Yep. I saw that. Good to see it again.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33788) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 years ago

F'n Koch s

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 6 years ago

Stephen's lawyer explains that Colbert Super PAC SHH!'s tax-exempt status was never granted because he never filed for it. (04:17)


[-] 1 points by DebtSUSPENSIONRights (181) 6 years ago

I'm finding your explanation confusing. If 23 of the 25 originally filed 501 (C) (4) status, then why didn't the attorney proceed on those grounds and simply sue because their applications were delayed?

And if 13 plaintiffs already "won" something, then once again this lends merit to their argument that they were delayed too long.

I think the 501 (C) (4) explanation you provide has been oversimplified. 501 (C) (4) allows an organization to accept donations while keeping the names of the donors private. This in turn can easily turn into tax abuse if the money is then used for political attack ads.

I think the bottom line might be, if an organization desires either non-profit status, OR the ability to raise funds for political ads, FULL DISCLOSURE of those making donations is required to make sure the group is not abusing the designation they received from the IRS.

I thought Barack Obama tricked the tea partiers. The trick was for the tea partiers to not allow the IRS head, (who was a Bush appointee) to be dismissed. Instead, the tea party movement selfishly thought only of themselves and used the dismissal for their own selfish purposes.

However, I think things could get even worse than is being told. Any group that used their own alleged IrS victimization to solicit for donations should give those donations back and possibly be fined as well.

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

Then read it again. It's rather simple, they don't have a case. When you go to court, you are seeking a remedy. The court offers a remedy.
The 13 were granted status after application. So, the big "win" is they already achieved what they were after. The IRS did exactly what they were supposed to. The court cannot offer any further remedy. There is nothing to over simplify. The big one is that Sukelow is asking for a remedy that applies to 501(c)(3) status for those that applied for 501 (C) (4).

This is a trick. But, I think you need to start looking at Issa.

[-] 1 points by DebtSUSPENSIONRights (181) 6 years ago

The additional argument is that the IRS TOOK TOO LONG to approve them.

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

It's a crock. Hahahahaha.

[-] 1 points by DebtSUSPENSIONRights (181) 6 years ago

I agree UNLESS it can be shown that their requests took longer to grant than other organizations. And what about the other groups that are not part of the 13 that did get remedy?

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

I think they are trying to circumvent the tax code as it is.

[-] 2 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 6 years ago

don't the banks know all our transactions anyway ?

[-] 1 points by DebtSUSPENSIONRights (181) 6 years ago

All your transactions belong to us.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 6 years ago

if the IRS must use the treat random checks to enforce the tax codes

I would not classify that as a clear tax system

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

They did exactly what they were supposed to do. Scrutinize for status. This is what makes this a joke.

[-] -1 points by TheNorthern (-7) from Hollister, CA 6 years ago

Tip of the iceberg. How much more will come out?

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

How much more can you spew?

[-] -1 points by TheNorthern (-7) from Hollister, CA 6 years ago

This is just business as usual for Obama, and you know it. Chicago politics at its finest.