WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator JD Vance (R-OH) and Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) sent a letter to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Daniel Werfel, raising concerns that a recent investigation into the conservative watchdog group, the American Accountability Foundation (AAF), is politically motivated. In the letter, Senator Vance requests answers to a number of questions regarding the decision to target the AAF.
The IRS has historically unfairly targeted conservative groups, notably during the Obama administration.
Senator Vance’s letter reads, in part:
“We write to express serious concern about your agency’s recent decision to audit the American Accountability Foundation (“AAF”), a non-profit organization dedicated to government transparency and oversight.1 In particular, we are concerned that this enforcement action is motivated by politics and does not reflect an evenhanded effort to enforce the law.
“In a letter dated September 14, your agency announced its intention to investigate whether AAF “[o]perates in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.” Underneath the announcement was an implied threat to revoke AAF’s tax-exempt status if the investigation yields sufficient legal grounds. But, to date, the IRS has neither presented any evidence that AAF has failed to observe the requirements of section 501(c)(3) nor explained why AAF may be at risk of failing to observe those requirements.
“That is particularly striking given the agency’s frequent complaints that, even in “high-risk cases,” the agency “must make difficult enforcement decisions based on resources, return on investment, coverage of all types of taxpayers, and other high priority work.” Only last year, then-Commissioner Rettig argued that, because of its resource constraints, the IRS “can no longer audit [even] a respectable percentage of large corporations [that] can afford to spend large amounts on legal counsel.”…
“Without an obvious legal rationale for this enforcement action, many will reasonably suspect a political one. Public reporting suggests that the IRS has been lobbied by Democratic Senators to investigate AAF’s tax-exempt status. And AAF asserts that Democratic interest in the organization’s tax compliance spiked only after the organization published 176 pages of correspondence between Senate Democrats and the administration, in which the IRS was encouraged to target conservative groups…
“In order to ensure a constructive public debate about the validity of this enforcement action, please provide answers to the following questions by December 6, 2023:
- Have any IRS employees discussed AAF’s political orientation in connection with this enforcement action? If so, please transcribe their statements.
- Why did the agency choose AAF from among thousands of non-profits to receive an audit of its compliance with section 501(c)(3)? Has the IRS considered, but declined to pursue, audits of non-profits with progressive or left-wing views in the last six months? If so, why did the agency decline to pursue enforcement?
- Has the IRS been encouraged by any public official, in any branch of government, to pursue an enforcement action against AAF? If so, please transcribe such encouragement or transmit any written record of it.”