By Todd Cohen
President Bush’s brand of compassionate conservatism could use a hefty dose of fairness.
That is true for his initiatives to repeal the estate tax and to give more federal dollars to faith-based groups that deliver social services.
Now that Congress has failed to eliminate the estate tax, a move many nonprofit leaders feared would remove a big incentive for charitable giving, the Bush administration is axing nearly half the IRS lawyers who audit the returns of some of the richest Americans, according a report in The New York Times.
IRS estate-tax lawyers likely to lose their jobs told the Times the cuts aim to protect political insiders with complex tax-avoidance schemes from rigorous audits.
The Times also said a Government Accountability Office report found that Bush’s faith-based program lacked adequate protection against religious discrimination.
Bush can do better.
Instead of defanging the IRS, he should give it the resources it needs to be even-handed in enforcing the law and making sure all Americans pay their fair share of taxes.
And if he truly wants to help religious groups address critical social needs, Bush should make sure those groups play by rules that ensure even-handed treatment for all people in need.
Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.