Report Says IRS Approved Tax-Exempt Status For Twice as Many Conservative Groups as Liberal Groups

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Here’s an interesting tidbit from the newsletter Tax Notes. As we all know by now, the IRS applies extra scrutiny to a group applying for tax-exempt status if it suspects the group is political in nature. In 2010, they decided that having “tea party” in a group’s name was sufficient to raise a red flag.

The Inspector General’s report about this included an audit of 298 groups that had been given special scrutiny. Of these, 96 had “tea party,” “patriots,” or “9-12 project” in their names. But that’s all we know. We have no idea how many of the 298 groups were liberal and how many were conservative, because the IRS doesn’t release the name of groups that have applied for tax-exempt status.

However, the IRS does publish the names of groups that have received special scrutiny and been approved for tax-exempt status. They recently released a list of 176 organizations that have been approved since 2010, so Martin Sullivan checked each one to figure out if it was liberal or conservative. Here’s what he found:

  • 122 conservative
  • 48 liberal/nonconservative
  • 6 unknown

This doesn’t tell us anything definitive about the entire set of groups that got special scrutiny. If the whole set is similar to the approved set, then about two-thirds were conservative and one-third liberal—most likely because of the boom in new tea party groups in 2010. But that’s just a guess.

One thing isn’t a guess, however: Two-thirds of the groups who were approved for tax-exempt status were conservative. If the IRS was on a partisan witch hunt against conservative groups, that’s sure an odd way of showing it, isn’t it?

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate