James Dobson says he too was targeted by US tax authority

(Family Talk Action Corporation)Well-known Christian broadcaster Dr. James Dobson provides advice to parents and families through his Family Talk radio program with co-hosts Ryan Dobson (his son) and LuAnne Crane. Dobson,right, claimed this week that his organization was harassed by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service when it applied for tax exempt status. The IRS has admitted to targeting the Tea Party, a conservative political group in the U.S.

Author and broadcaster James Dobson has joined other Christian groups and individuals complaining that they were targeted by the Internal Revenue Agency , which collects taxes for the U.S. government.

Dobson joins another prominent Christian leader, Franklin Graham, in accusing the IRS of playing politics with groups or individuals critical of the administration of President Barack Obama.

Graham recently sent a letter to Obama accusing the IRS of intimidation because it audited the two Christian organizations which he heads.

Dobson, founder of the international ministry Focus on the Family, said the IRS harassed his current organization, Family Talk Action Corporation, when it filed for an exemption from federal taxes as a social welfare organization.

The status, known as 501(c)4, allows political activity by such groups as long as it is not their primary focus.

Dobson's organization said in the statement announcing its belief that it had been targeted by the IRS that its primary purpose was not political in nature.

The statement said Family Talk Action Corporation is a Christian ministry that was formed for the purpose of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, giving Christ-oriented advice and education to parents and children, and speaking to cultural issues that affect the family.

However, the group's application for tax exemption ran in to trouble when its attorney talked to the IRS agent handling their case on March 19 of this year.

The attorney had been trying to contact the agent since January of this year and had been unable to talk ti her until that day.

The Family Talk Action Corporation lawyer was trying to learn when a determination on the request for tax exemption would be made because the application had been filed in September, 2011.

The attorney was told by the agent, only referred to in the press release as "Ms. Medley", that she did not believe that his group qualified for the 501(c)4 status.

She told him that this was because Family Talk Action Corporation's purpose was not educational since it did not present both sides issues.

In addition, Medley said that Family Talk Action Corporation sounded like a "right-wing group" because it presented only conservative viewpoints.

She then added that the group was political because it "criticized President Barack Obama, who was a candidate".

According to Brian Palmer of Slate magazine, the 501(c)4 tax status is a broad category by the IRS's own admission and it includes issue advocacy.

"Public education, even regarding political issues, constitutes social welfare as the IRS understand the term", he said in an article explaining 501(c)4.

"The challenge is determining when public education efforts become electioneering, which is not social welfare work and can constitute only a minor portion of a 501(c)4 group's activities", wrote Palmer.

Palmer said that "the IRS has a multi-prong test, including such factors as whether the advocacy occurs close to an election, whether an advertisement mentions a candidate by name and whether the group has a long-standing position on an issue".

"Although this 'facts and circumstances' test is murky, most tax experts think it would be workable if the IRS had the resources to enforce it", he said.

"In practice, political 501(c)4 groups on both sides of the ideological divide violate the anti-electioneering rule, and the IRS rarely responds".

The Family Talk Action Corporation statement said its attorney had "submitted scores of similar applications over his 26-year career with none being rejected".

The Dobson group was finally granted the 501(c)4 status nine days after the attorney's call .

In its statement, Family Talk Action Corporation inferred that they believed this was due to the threat their lawyer made to Ms. Medley.

"If we have to litigate, we will", he said.

In addition to the alleged targeting of Dobson and Graham, pro-life groups and Catholic organizations, and at least one Catholic professor, have complained of selective harassment by the IRS.

"The American people deserve better treatment from its government than this," said Dobson.

"Christian ministries and others supporting the family must not be silenced or intimidated by the IRS or other branches of government."

President Obama has expressed anger over the actions of the IRS. He fired the acting head of the agency on May 15.

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