Department

Accounting

Publication Year

2014

Abstract

The way the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulates and enforces rules on 501(c)(4) organizations has become a hotly debated topic today due to the controversial audits of tea party affiliated 501(c)(4) organizations conducted by the IRS. The IRS started auditing 501(c)(4) organizations this past election cycle solely on the (sole) basis of the organization's "perceived" political affiliation. 501(c)(4) organizations define in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) are "Civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, and local association of employees, the membership of which is limited to the employees of designated person(s) in a particular municipality, and the net earnings of which are devoted exclusively for the promotion of social welfare."1 In 2010 the treatment of social welfare groups became controversial due to the increased influence the groups have on political elections. This controversy stemmed from the landmark Supreme Court decision of Citizens United v. FEC, which stated that corporations have the right to free political speech under the protection of the 1st amendment.

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