According to the Daily Caller, via this editorial in Investors Business Daily, the Obama IRS is requiring American Legion posts (and, it appears, posts of other veterans groups) to provide proof of membership eligibility. Reportedly, the IRS demands that the American Legion provide it with DD-214 forms, the certificate of release of discharge from active duty, for every member. Posts that can’t or won’t comply face heavy fines.
The targeting of the American Legion is being undertaken based on the IRS’s “Exempt Organizations Examination Guidelines.” These Guidelines fell under the jurisdiction of Lois Lerner, the disgraced political operative.
American Legion legal counsel Philip Onderdonk told The Daily Caller:
The American Legion has recently learned of the so-called IRS ‘audit manual’ and is concerned that portions of it attempt to amend statutes passed by Congress and approved by the president.
The IRS now requires American Legion posts to maintain dates of service and character of service records for all members. …The penalty for not having the required proof of eligibility is, apparently, $1,000 per day.
‘Unconscionable’ is an overused word in describing the abuses of power and the continual overstepping of legal and constitutional boundaries by this administration [note: here, I disagree]. But it certainly applies in this case. The American Legion is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit veterans organization chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919, and now has more than 2.4 million members in 14,000 posts worldwide, according to its website. It has never had to deal with such a requirement until now.
I assume that some individuals falsely claim to have served in the military. But the notion that American Legion posts may be enjoying tax-exempt status under false pretenses — the premise of the IRS’ new inquiry — is as absurd as it is offensive.
Sen. Jerry Moran shares my outrage. He has asked Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel, “at a minimum,” to put a halt to the audits until a review of the practice is completed. He also asked Werfel these questions:
•What legal authority does the IRS have in carrying out a mandate for personal, military service records? Was this mandate reviewed by IRS general counsel? Please provide documentation that gives the IRS the authority to collect this information;
•Under whose leadership was this mandate initiated, for what direct purpose, and who had approving authority for this mandate?;
•Were veteran service organizations ever specifically notified of the requirement? If so, please provide the documentation that was issued to these organizations. If not, please explain why organizations were not notified; and
•Is it true that an organization unable or unwilling to provide this information could be charged penalty fees of $1,000 per day? Please provide clarification regarding the penalty for noncompliance.
Between the IRS and the VA, we have an administration that isn’t effectively processing the claims of wounded warriors, but is aggressively seeking information relating to their membership in veterans organizations, while simultaneously harassing these organizations. It makes me wonder whether the left’s hostility towards those who serve in our military, which dates back to the Vietnam War (see Kerry, John), persists to this day.