IRS protesters gather in Albuquerque

By Rob Nikolewski on May 21, 2013
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TAKING ON THE TAX MAN: An estimated 130 protesters gathered in front of the Albuquerque office of the Internal Revenue Service, protesting the agency’s targeting of conservative groups. Photo by James R. Scarantino

Angry at disclosures that the Service has admitted targeting Tea Party groups and conservative organizations, an estimated 130 protesters gathered during the lunch hour on Tuesday (May 21).

A number of the protesters were members of the Albuquerque and Rio Rancho Tea Parties and a line covered the block along Montgomery Blvd., spilling onto the adjacent block while some stood in the median and across street.

The protest was part of a loosely organized who gathered in front of a number IRS buildings, including Washington D.C., Atlanta, Kansas City, Denver and Houston.

On Capitol Hill Tuesday, former IRS chief , who vacated his position last November, he didn’t learn details about giving extra scrutiny to tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status until he read last week’s report by a Treasury inspector general.

When pressed on how the targeting could have occurred in the first place, Shulman said, “Mr. Chairman, I can’t say. I can’t say that I know that answer.”

As first reported by , the Albuquerque Tea Party has been one of the organizations that has seen its application for non-profit 501(c)4 status delayed by the IRS. Rick Harbaugh, the president of the Albuquerque Tea Party, says his organization has been wrangling with the IRS for nearly four years.

Two more protesters in front of the Albuquerque IRS office, 5/21/13

“The abuses we saw was in the sheer volume of stuff they were demanding … that’s harassment,” said Harbaugh, who attended Tuesday’s protest. “We asked a number of CPAs who have experience with this if this was typical. By and large, they said, ‘this is crazy.’ ”

Harbaugh said the Albuquerque Tea Party has sent the IRS “20 inches of documentation” in response to questions.

In a odd twist, New Mexico Watchdog learned that the IRS ended up asking about an 83-year-old great-grandmother and Albuquerque resident who spent four years in a World War II internment camp. Click here to read that story.

In the meantime, a conservative legal firm — the – is representing the Albuquerque Tea Party and 26 other organizations, demanding that the IRS grant them the non-profit status.

“Regardless of whether the IRS complies, we are still planning on a filing a lawsuit,” ACLJ spokesman Gene Kapp told New Mexico Watchdog, citing what Kapp said was the agency’s “abhorrent and unconstitutional conduct.”

Harbaugh said the Albuquerque Tea Party’s board will meet later this month to decide whether it will join in the lawsuit.

“How would you feel if the IRS was sending you letters saying they’re looking over your shoulder every minute,” Harbaugh asked. “It affects potential donors … who wants to donate if they fear that in the back of their minds the IRS is looking at you?”

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One Comment For This Post So Far

  1. Nancy NM
    8:04 am on May 22nd, 2013

    Thank you for reporting this. Apparently the rest of local and national media chose to ignore it, or worse, misreport it. KOBTV 4 Tuesday morning reported several times that the Tea Party Patriots were asking for protestors to gather at noon Eastern time at some obscure IRS office in New York State! Anyone tuning in to get more information on the local rally was essentially told to go to New York State. No mention of the local rally at noon our time.

    Local news stations used to be reliable for accurate reporting. Now they have become as politically one sided as the national news media. For two days they led their news with reports of protests for a local graduating senior and what color robe he/she would be required to wear because of “gender identification” issues. While my heart goes out to this child over the turmoil he/she is experiencing, it is not as newsworthy as the IRS using its money and power to stifle free speech.

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