Much of the public probably isn't fond of the Internal Revenue Service, and given that the agency is responsible for collecting taxes, it's not too hard to understand why. So perhaps when congressional Republicans go after the IRS, the party isn't especially concerned about a public backlash.
But it's important to realize why recent efforts against the IRS are deeply problematic. First up is this change regarding non-profits.
Amid ongoing controversy over its scrutiny of nonprofits, the Internal Revenue Service has decided it will no longer screen approximately 80% of the organizations seeking tax-exempt charitable status each year, a change that will ease the creation of small charities while doing away with a review intended to counter fraud and prevent political and other noncharitable groups from misusing the tax code.
Gone are requirements that groups fill out a lengthy form and supply supporting documents; now groups can make a few declarations, pay a modest fee, and become a charitable non-profit.
We know why, of course, such streamlining became politically necessary -- Republicans manufactured a "scandal" involving the IRS allegedly "targeting" conservative non-profits. The controversy was largely a mirage, but the blowback from the right was so intense, the IRS appears to have decided to pull back considerably.
Won't this invite abuse, with political groups claiming tax-exempt status that wouldn't otherwise qualify? Of course it will. But with congressional Republicans having successfully badgered the agency, this is the result.
"What we'll see is the so-called dark political money that flowed into the (c)(4) world is going to begin to flow into the (c)(3) world," said Marcus Owens, the former director of the exempt-organizations division at the IRS.
But in the larger context, this probably isn't the worst news for the IRS this week.