’Modern Family’ Star’s Marriage Equality Group Targeted by IRS
The folks at the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) can stop complaining and rest easy tonight. If news in the Hollywood Reporter is correct, they haven’t been singled out by the Internal Revenue Service because of their views on traditional marriage, instead they join the ranks of "Modern Family" actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his fiancé Justin Mikita whose marriage equality group Tie the Knot, was also one of the groups the IRS targeted for special scrutiny.
"The ongoing scandal over allegations of politically motivated probes by agents in the IRS’ Cincinnati office has dogged President Barack Obama’s administration in recent weeks, but thus far has been portrayed by Congressional Republicans as a scandal involving only conservative groups, mostly affiliated with the Tea Party," the Hollywood Reporter writes.
IRS documents state that Ferguson and Mikita’s Tie the Knot, which raises funds to support gay marriage by selling designer bow ties online, was targeted because it claimed a tax exemption called 501(c)(4) for social welfare organizations. The tax code requires groups to spend most of the money they raise for educational purposes, rather than partisan or electoral purposes.
"The extra advantage of the 501(c)(4) is that donors to their coffers can remain secret. The IRS, confronted with an avalanche of requests for such exemptions centralized review in its Midwestern office, where lower level bureaucrats were allowed to devise their own criteria for granting the requests," the Hollywood Reporter notes. The number of groups claiming the tax code sharply increased after the Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case, which overturned restrictions on cooperate and private donations to "independent expenditure committees."
The IRS admitted, however, that such groups "unfortunately experienced inappropriate delays and over-expansive information requests in some cases."
Tie the Knot was launched in September 2011 and received a tax exemption in January of this year, the IRS states.