A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Michigan Tea Party Group Says It Is A Victim of IRS Discrimination

The IRS has been unfairly targeting groups that promote limited government

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When the Ottawa County Patriots tried to register as a non-profit a few years ago, the Internal Revenue Service dragged its feet for over a year-and-a-half.

The Michigan group now joins the ranks of those across the nation that were singled out for additional scrutiny because of their politics, said the group's leader.

Jim Chiodo is the head of the organization out of the Holland-Zeeland area. The group worked with the company Biz Central USA, which helps people file as 501c(3) or 501c(4) non-profit organizations. Registering as a non-profit ensures a more formal structure and makes it easier to collect donations.

Chiodo said they put together their mission statement and all the paperwork and filed with the State of Michigan and then the IRS in August 2011. The organization helping with the registration told him it should have been an easy application. Apparently not, however, on the federal government's end.

"We didn't hear anything for a long time," Chiodo said. "No response, no nothing."

The group eventually got a letter from the IRS after resubmitting the application and was told it would hear something in 60 to 90 days.

"It must have been a typo — should have been 'years,' " Chiodo said.

Members of the group began making calls in January to find out what was going on. The Ottawa County Patriots had paid money to apply as a non-profit which, and at the very least, they wanted to get back.

"We tried to withdraw it and for them to give us back our 400 bucks," Chiodo said.

The IRS never approved the group or cashed the check.

In the meantime, group members began hearing rumors that the IRS was unfairly rejecting the applications of small government and tea party groups.

In fact, on its website, the group has had the following statement for some time now: 

Non-profit status:

We are waiting for the IRS to approve out application for 501C-3 status. This will allow donations to our group as tax deductible. Hopefully, the rumors of IRS delaying approval for tea parties is really a rumor.

Those rumors were recently confirmed by agency officials and a federal investigation has begun. President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder called the practice "outrageous and unacceptable," Fox News reported.

Chiodo has been contacted by the national Tea Party Patriots and a congressmember and will be traveling to Washington, D.C., for a press conference today. Congressional hearings are set to begin this Friday.

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See also:

Michigan Capitol Confidential Tea Party Coverage

What the Tea Party Is, Is Not, and It's 'Core Competence'