The tax-exemption rip-off

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Nick has been an observant, insightful and critical analyst of the radical environmentalist movement for many years. His latest article will likely amaze and anger you. The vast amounts of money these groups have at their disposal – much of it your own tax dollars – to attack our technology, industry, productivity, jobs and living standards, is truly shocking.

As Nick points out, in 2010, 13,716 tax-exempt 501(c)(3) United States environmental groups had combined revenues of $7.4-billion and total assets of $20.6-billion! Tax-exempt Greenpeace organizations alone reported $39.2-million in revenue in 2011 – a hefty chunk of which it use to prevent Golden Rice from reaching starving children who are going blind and dying because of Vitamin A deficiency that this miraculous genetically modified rice would prevent.

The tax-exemption rip-off

How your tax dollars help radicals attack our energy, industries, jobs and living standards

by Nick Nichols

If you believe future IRS abuses will be prevented by putting Lois Learner and her merry band of political hacks in the hoosegow, stop drinking Potomac River Kool-Aid and start partaking in a dose of reality.

rip-offThe most effective way to eliminate political hackery at the IRS would be to abolish the so-called progressive income tax and completely dismantle the tax agency.  Too draconian?  Only if you believe the Tea Party purge is the solitary scandal rolling around the halls at the IRS.  It’s not.

Fact is the system is corrupt to the core.  To illustrate, consider Lois Learner’s old haunt at the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division.  When the IRS bureaucrats determine that an organization is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt group, that group is excused from paying federal taxes and contributors to the group are allowed to deduct contributions from their taxable income.

Those Americans who actually pay federal taxes must make up what the US Treasury loses as a result of the tax exemptions.  Moreover, once the IRS determines that a group is tax-exempt, that group is excused from paying taxes (including property taxes) in at least thirty-nine states.

Consider these facts from the National Center For Charitable Statistics about 501 (c)(3) Public Charities.  In 1988, 10,215 organizations filed with the IRS as 501(c)(3) Public Charities.  They reported combined revenues of $29.8-billion.  By July, 2013, organizations filing as 501(c)(3) Public Charities amounted to 357,167!  These tax-exempt groups reported combined revenues of $1.6-trillion and assets of $2.9-trillion.

Calculating the amount of federal and state tax revenue lost as a result of tax exemptions is way above my pay grade.  I would guess the federal and state revenue loss exceeds one-trillion dollars annually.  Who gets stuck paying for this loss?  The American taxpayer.  Talk about redistribution of wealth.  Need I remind you that in 2011 only 53% of American households actually paid federal income taxes?

Allow me to add insult to injury.  The uncivil servants at the IRS and their progressive allies on Capitol Hill have corrupted the definition of “public charities” to allow activist groups to feed at the trough of the American taxpayer.  For example, 13,716 US-based environmental groups filed as tax-exempt 501(c)(3)s in 2010.  Their combined revenue was $7.4-billion.  Their total assets equaled $20.6-billion.

In 2012, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) reported $112-million in revenue and $173.1-million in assets.  EDF has been tax-exempt since 1969.  In 2011, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. (NRDC) reported $97-million in revenue and $248.9-million in assets.  NRDC has been tax-exempt since 1970.  Three tax-exempt Greenpeace organizations in the U.S. reported $39.2-million in revenue and $20.6-million in assets in 2011.

I wonder whether the tax-paying coal miners of West Virginia realize that they are subsidizing progressives intent on destroying their jobs?  Do they consider Greenpeace charitable?  I can’t speak for the coal miners, but I can confirm that both New Zealand and Canada have stripped Greenpeace of its charity status.

What about unemployed union workers who have been denied jobs on the Keystone pipeline?  Is it fair and just that they have to pay taxes while the progressive activist groups lobbying against pipeline construction avoid state and federal tax collectors?

Progressive environmental organizations aren’t the only radicals feeding off the beleaguered taxpayer.  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been tax-exempt since 1981.  Last year PETA reported $31-million in revenue and $16-million in assets.  For those who have been victimized by the radical animal rights group, how does it feel to be forced to subsidize your adversary?

The Ruckus Society trains protesters to disrupt public events and engage in civil disobedience.  Yes, Ruckus has been tax-exempt since 1996.  Three years later it helped train radicals to rain havoc and rampant property destruction on Seattle during a World Trade Organization conference.  Very charitable, wouldn’t you agree?

One final example:  The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) which is alleged to have links to Hamas, a State Department designated terrorist group, has at least thirteen 501(c)(3) tax-exempt groups in the USA. During 2011, CAIR reported $8.7-million in revenues and $6.4-million in assets.  It also boasts a multi-million dollar lobbying organization.  Isn’t it ironic that the IRS saw fit to declare CAIR a Public Charity worthy of tax-exempt status, while putting the Tea Party through the wringer?

Once the Congress finishes its investigation of the IRS Tea Party scandal, it would do well to take a comprehensive look at how “charity” is defined for the purpose of granting tax exemptions.  Failure to do so will amount to taxation without representation for millions of real American taxpayers.

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Nick is a retired crisis communications executive.  He also developed and taught graduate-level crisis management courses at the Johns Hopkins University. Nick is the author of Rules for Corporate Warriors: How to Fight and Survive Attack Group Shakedowns. He is a former Deputy Secretary of Revenue for the State of Wisconsin.

About Author

PAUL DRIESSEN is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), public policy institutes that promote environmental stewardship, the enhancement of human health and welfare, and personal liberties and civil rights. He writes and speaks frequently on the environment, energy and economic development, malaria eradication, climate change, human rights, corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. His articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines and on news and opinion websites in the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Peru, Venezuela, South Africa, Uganda, Bangladesh and many other countries. Driessen’s book, Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death, documents the harm that restrictive environmental policies often have on poor people, especially in developing countries, by restricting their access to life-enhancing modern technologies. It is in its second US printing and has also been published in Argentina (Spanish), India (English), Germany (German) and Italy (Italian). He was editor for Energy Keepers - Energy Killers: The new civil rights battle, by CORE national chairman Roy Innis; Rules for Corporate Warriors: How to fight and survive attack group shakedowns, by Nick Nichols; and Creatures, Corals and Colors in North American Seas, by Ann Scarborough-Bull. His report, Responsible Progress in the Andes, examined ways that modern mining operations can bring jobs, infrastructure, and improved safety and pollution control practices to poor communities. Driessen’s studies and analyses have also appeared in Conserving the Environment (Doug Dupler, editor), Resurgent Diseases (Karen Miller, Editor) and Malnutrition (Margaret Haerens, editor), all part of the Thomson-Gale “Opposing Viewpoints” Series that is used in many high schools and colleges; Redefining Sovereignty: Will liberal democracies continue to determine their own laws and public policies, or yield these rights to transnational entities in search of universal order and justice? (Orin Judd, editor); and other publications. He played a lead role in the “Kill Malarial Mosquitoes Now” campaign, an international effort that restored the use of DDT to African and other malaria control programs, and served as an advisor to the film “3 Billion and Counting,” examining how environmentalist and EPA campaign against DDT had devastating impacts on families in poor developing countries. Paul received his BA in geology and field ecology from Lawrence University and a JD from the University of Denver College of Law, before embarking on a career that also included tenures with the United States Senate, U.S. Department of the Interior and an energy trade association. He has produced documentary films about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, immigration through Ellis Island, and marine habitats beneath offshore oil production platforms. Driessen is also a frequent guest on radio talk shows and college campuses, and at business and public policy forums. He participates in energy, health and environmental conferences, and was active in the Public Relations Society of America, where he served as Washington, DC chapter newsletter editor and in the Social Responsibility Section.

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