, Salem, MA


December 16, 2013

A look at what others are saying

The following are excerpts of editorials from other newspapers across New England:

Without clearly understood rules, any game runs the risk of getting out of hand. This is true in the board game Monopoly, on the football field, in the political arena.

It’s why there are rules.

The Internal Revenue Service has rules governing spending by certain tax-exempt organizations. But the regulations, to put it charitably, are not a little vague.

One example, an organization created under section 501(c(4) of the federal tax code can spend money on politicking — as long as the group doesn’t exist “primarily” to influence elections. This obviously leaves not a little wiggle room. Depends, as some might say, on what your definition of “primarily” is.

The IRS has been taking steps to make the rules clear — to all players.

This only makes sense. And as long as the government is careful not to single out organizations with certain political leanings, as long as the IRS acts as an equal-opportunity pain in the neck, scrutinizing the activities of groups on the left and on the right, as long as it plays by its own rules, the game will be fair.

This was why it was so disturbing earlier this year to have found that the tax-collecting arm of the federal government had been targeting groups whose political leanings were not exactly aligned with the views of the current occupant of the White House.

Organizations on the right, those hewing to tea party thinking or to some ideology that might identify them as conservative, were singled out for review. Or had their applications bottled up.

This was a serious problem that must not be repeated. The citizens, no matter their political leanings, have got to believe that federal authorities are playing fair, are treating everyone the same, are reading from only one rule book.

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