Tea Party Maui part of IRS tax-exempt scandal

Tax-exempt request took 26 months to process

Published  11:46 AM HST May 15, 2013
HONOLULU -

A Tea Party group from Maui was one of the hundreds of groups given extra scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service when it applied for tax-exempt status in May 2010, according to The Maui News.

Tea Party Maui has about 500 individuals and groups who get email and other information from the nonpartisan group that it says advocates good government, fiscal responsibility, free enterprise and a constitutionally-limited government, according to the group's president in 2012, Bill Doyle.

The group applied for nonprofit status in May 2010, which allows an organization to engage in political activity as long as it's not more than 50 percent of its activity, according to Doyle.

By August 2010, Tea Party Maui received a request for additional information from the IRS.

After Doyle says the group met a two-week deadline to submit the information, Tea Party Maui did not hear back from the IRS in 2010 and the tax-exempt status languished for much of 2011.

By the end of January 2012, the IRS told the group it wanted more information including membership and donor lists, copies of all website pages, its monthly newsletter, and copies of the texts of their speeches.

Doyle says the IRS letter violated the group's First Amendment right and right to freedom of assembly.  The Maui group refused to submit the requested information.

When Tea Party groups in Virginia and Texas were targeted in a similar way, the American Center for Law and Justice took up the groups' cause against the IRS.

In July of 2012, Tea Party Maui got its tax-exempt status.

The IRS has identified two "rogue" employees in its Cincinnati office as being principally responsible for the "overly aggressive" handling of requests by conservative groups for tax-exempt status, according to CNN.

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