The American Legion is accusing the Internal Revenue Service of conducting unreasonably harsh evaluations of each post’s tax-exempt status. Congress is supporting the veterans’ organization and on Aug. 28, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Veterans Affairs requested the IRS address the allegations.
The IRS requested each American Legion post provide military service records or discharge papers for each active member during their assessments of the Legion’s tax-exempt status. The IRS fined posts that didn’t comply. The Congressional Committee called this practice “unduly burdensome and completely unwarranted.”
American Legion Post 447 in Round Rock, Texas, was fined $12,000 for “a lack of compliance” towards the IRS’ request. Post 447 had submitted documentation the IRS asked for, but apparently it wasn’t to the agency’s satisfaction. The post was fined $1,000 per day until the IRS received enough documents to satisfy their request.
“As former military members, the one thing we know how to do is follow regulations,” said Louis Celli, national legislative director for the American Legion. “The inspection manual they give to inspectors tells them to look for documents that we’re not told to maintain in the first place.”
Celli elaborated that the IRS’ problem with the American Legion stems from the unclear guidelines about 501 (c)(19) organizations. The IRS states that organizations must maintain records of members and their dates of service, but not their official discharge papers.
Congress intends to continue scrutinized oversight of the IRS until this matter is resolved.