Lack of oversight of stealth lobbying uncovered by Cause of Action

WASHINGTON – Following an investigation into the oversight of lobbying disclosures, Cause of Action (CoA) uncovered that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) fails to monitor activities that could violate tax-exempt statuses, prompting CoA to send a request for investigation to the Treasury Department Inspector General concerning the IRS’s lack of action.

On March 22, 2012, Cause of Action wrote to Douglas Shulman, Commissioner of the IRS, to inquire about the IRS’s monitoring of tax-exempt organizations that house lobbying coalitions. These coalitions, as has been revealed in numerous media outlets over the past several years, dodge the Lobbying Disclosure Act by existing as loosely organized groups which are not incorporated under the law.  Concerned that lobbying coalitions are exercising political influence without paying taxes under the Internal Revenue Code, CoA sought to ensure that lobbying entities are paying taxes and are in compliance with IRS regulations.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request Cause of Action submitted, on May 14, 2012, the IRS responded that it was unable to locate any documents relating to the tax-exempt status of unincorporated coalitions residing at tax-exempt corporations, their fiscal sponsors, or any investigations by the IRS into these organizations.

“The inability of the IRS to produce any documents on oversight or investigation into stealth or coalition lobbying points to a gross lack of accountability by the federal government,” stated Dan Epstein, Executive Director of Cause of Action. “The burden now lies upon the Treasury Department’s investigators to examine why the IRS has turned a blind eye to numerous coalitions that have the potential to lobby with tax-exempt dollars, which is a clear violation of the Lobbying Disclosure Act.”

On June 8, 2012, CoA sent a request for investigation letter to J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) which states that “the IRS has failed to require lobbying coalitions to report their activities and the IRS has failed to conduct oversight over tax-exempt corporations that sponsor coalition lobbying without disclosing those activities. Moreover, the IRS, despite concerns by Congress and the media, has failed to conduct any investigations of lobbying coalition activities that may be inconsistent with the Internal Revenue Code.  As a result, we strongly request that you immediately investigate these matters.”

At the time of this release, CoA has not received a response from TIGTA concerning the request for investigation.

About Cause of Action:

Cause of Action is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that uses public advocacy and legal reform tools to ensure greater transparency in government, protect taxpayer interests and promote economic freedom. For more information, visit