INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The leader of one Tea Party organization in Indiana believes it was targeted for discrimination by the IRS.
The group calls itself "The Indiana Tea Party." Organizer Ken Johnson first sought nonprofit status in 2011, a request that went unanswered for ten months.
There is a "Don't Tread on Me" flag outside the Richmond home of Ken Johnson, a Tea Party symbol. But when the IRS finally responded to his request for nonprofit status he felt like his rights were being violated.
"They wanted hard copies of everything that had ever been on our web page," he said, "every piece of material that we had ever distributed at any kind of a rally or meeting."
That was just part of what the IRS asked for in a five page letter.
"We had no way to go back and replicate, you know, the past," said Johnson.
Eventually Johnson and the Indiana Tea Party decided it was too much trouble. They gave up on the effort to secure nonprofit status. It's the kind of treatment that has prompted calls to action on Capitol Hill.
Johnson's Congressman, Luke Messer, wants an investigation.
"The American people demand the truth," said Rep. Messer on the House floor this week, "and this Congress is duty bound to make sure they get it." Messer is also a sponsor on a bill making it a crime for the IRS to discriminate.
Johnson, in the meantime, wants others to learn from his experience.
"I would hope that people would pause," he said, "irregardless of their political persuasion and say, if they can do it to them, could they do it to us?"
According to Tea Party leaders, Johnson's organization was only one in targeted in Indiana. The Indiana Tea Party raises just $5,000 to $6,000 a year, money that comes in mostly through $5 and $10 donations.
Nonprofit status was sought so that donors would be able to deduct their contributions. The lack of nonprofit status, Johnson says, has had no effect on its operations.
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SandyWakefield | May 18 2013 6:26pm
its time for a flat tax to get rid of all of this..and by the way..i say impeach obama as well
indyreader | May 17 2013 10:42am
Orgs that are primarily political are not eligible for tax exempt status. These orgs are named explicitly for their political stance. I'm not sure why it seems a big deal to at least scrutinize them. I agree the scrutiny should be equal on all sides - but face it, while a Dem is president, there will be more opposition orgs pop up than Dem orgs. So statistically, there will be greater numbers of TP orgs under scrutiny. How many Dem orgs have applied for tax exempt status and been denied? There's also the issue that the scrutiny process and conditions are not as well-defined as they should be. How many of the TP orgs were actually denied exemption? This doesn't seem like as big a deal as it's made out to be.