For decades I have been predicting that the federal government would eventually begin to revoke the tax-exempt status of various non-profit groups. At first, they would focus on groups that are controversial. Then politicians and bureaucrats would broaden it to include other groups so they could bring more taxes into the federal coffers.
An initial first step took place 36 years ago when the Supreme Court ruled that the IRS could revoke the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University. More recently, the government allowed the college to regain its tax-exempt status. Now the focus is on the US House of Representatives. A Ways and Means subcommittee met last month to consider “How the Tax Code Subsidizes Hate.”
As you can probably imagine, the definition of hate groups is much larger than most Americans would consider appropriate. That’s because the standard being proposed was the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of “hate groups.”
As I have discussed in previous commentaries, the organization isn’t content to merely focus on true hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. The list also includes the Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Family Association, and the Family Research Council.
That’s why you can find tweets about the meeting complaining that, “Over 60 hate groups receive tax-exempt status every year—meaning taxpayers are subsidizing the continued operation of these organizations.” Statements like this and others are intending (or indended) to arouse the emotions and start a movement to strip tax-exempt status from controversial organizations.
Here’s a simple fact. There are thousands of non-profit groups that promote something you probably don’t like (capitalism or socialism, gun rights or gun control, Christianity or atheism). If we start stripping the tax-exempt status of groups we don’t approve of, I don’t think we will like where it will end.