501(c)(4) scrutiny

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The news surrounding the unfair treatment of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status got me interested in what these groups are. There are a couple of different kinds of groups. One is called a 501(c)(3), which is like Goodwill or a church -- places to which if you give money you might be able to take a charitable deduction. There also are 501(c)(4) tax-exempt groups, like Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, then all these Tea Party groups and many other "public welfare" groups. The 501(c)(4) groups are the ones in the news.

But shouldn't we really look at who actually qualifies? We can't all be tax-exempt -- there are rules. And they should be applied uniformly and fairly.

But when I hear Mr. Norquist's group uses 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status to keep his donor list secret, it bugs me. Then there are all these other "public welfare" Tea Party groups. Give me a break! These are political action groups engaged in partisan politics, pure and simple! I don't care if it's a right-wing or left-wing group -- I think the public has a right to know who you are and who's funding you.

This covert funding of political groups hiding behind tax-exempt 501(c)(4) status to shield donors' identities is appalling and attacks freedom at its core.

You can speak freely and say what you will. But I have the right to respond to you directly, either by speaking back to you or not buying your products or services. Large corporate donors hide behind these groups claiming they are performing some "public welfare" when we all know they are playing politics.

We have to really ask ourselves what is a "public welfare" group? It sure isn't some Tea Party group claiming President Barack Obama is a socialist!

NICK BALANDIAT
Baldwin Borough


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