Opinion
FILE - This March 22, 2013 file photo shows the exterior of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington. Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington scrutinized the very first application from a tea party group seeking tax-exempt status _ and dozens of others, including some requests that languished for more than a year without action, an IRS official has told congressional investigators.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Were conservative filmmakers also targeted by the IRS?

Photo of Gerald Molen
Gerald Molen
Film Producer

Tea Party. Patriot. Conservative. We the People. Freedom. Constitution. Second Amendment. Gun Rights. Pro-Life. Christian.

These were some of the keywords used by the IRS to screen individuals and groups seeking tax exempt status and then delay them because they were identified as conservative.

The same IRS, for the same reasons, harassed other groups and individuals with audits or continued paperwork requests that could only create stress and financial burdens for innocent Americans.

Allow me to add my suspicion that there is one more type of victim to be added to the list: “conservative filmmaker.”

During the latter part of 2011, I agreed to produce a film written by noted author Dinesh D’Souza. It was titled, “2016: Obama’s America” and was due to be released during summer 2012.

After 50-plus years working in the entertainment business and faithfully paying my taxes like so many other Americans and never once receiving a notice or questions from the IRS, I must admit to being a bit perplexed when I received a notice that there was a question about my taxes, raising the possibility that there was income that I hadn’t paid taxes on. Although my accountant was able to settle the matter (at least for the time being) in hindsight I wonder if my experience wasn’t another example of IRS harassment. The timing was just too suspicious to be a coincidence.

The real question now is simply, is it truly over? Was that just a precursor of things to come? Was it a so-called fishing expedition? Or a legitimate request for clarity? And can we believe the latter when the IRS has been overstepping its authority by going after those with conservative leanings?

I never thought much more about the matter until a few months ago. Then it struck me like a sledgehammer. I’m also a conservative. I’m pro-life, a Christian, I believe in the constitution, freedom, liberty, the sanctity of marriage and other political views that put me in direct opposition to those in power in Washington. And now, given the IRS’s abuse of power, is it really so paranoid to wonder if we are on a list? And don’t forget: the IRS is the same agency in charge of implementing the Affordable Care Act.

Pray tell, what does that portend? More abuse? Who will oversee the overseers? And they tell us they will be adding 106,000 new agents to handle the workload. Forgive me if I’m not reassured.

To recap my concerns: First, I signed on to produce a film that voiced concerns about certain issues, some of which are proving legitimate. Then I was disinvited from speaking at a local high school for fear I might say something conservative. Then I received a letter from the IRS raising the possibility that I hadn’t paid my taxes fully, and then I was hammered for suggesting the film was shunned by the Academy due to the political orientation of the documentary review committee.