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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is the Internal Revenue Service or IRS. They get the award for the following.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - More than $1 million donated after an arson blaze killed five firefighters can't be distributed to their families because the charity didn't follow IRS rules.

Riverside County asked the Central County United Way in Hemet to handle the donations when offers started pouring in after the U.S. Forest Service firefighters died in October.

However, tax-exempt charitable organizations cannot raise money for a group as small and specific as the families of five firefighters. Under federal law, such groups can give money to individuals only if those individuals or families are part of a wider class and if giving the money ultimately benefits the community.

"This was a spontaneous effort — there wasn't time to go to a bunch of tax attorneys and CPAs," said Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley. "We feel like the IRS is the Grinch that stole Christmas."

Bob Duistermars, the local United Way's chairman, said the problem stemmed from ignorance about the process and confusion because of special exemptions made for the families of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We were all moved by the fact that we had lost friends and family," he said. "Now we just need to catch up with the law."

An IRS spokesman wouldn't discuss the firefighters' case specifically but said the agency has clear restrictions on how tax-exempt organizations can provide financial aid.

Duistermars said expanding the fund's reach would be a last resort, but his organization intends to follow the law. He said if the fund is expanded, donors could ask for their money back.

Hopefully it won't come to that point. Why is this different than the charities that sprung up for those killed after 9-11? The IRS just wants a cut of the money and if our politicians in Washington had any guts, they'd slap them down in an instant. Five brave firefighters lost their lives and people wanted to help their families. Instead we have another case of mindless bureaucrats standing in the way.

For being the Grinch that stole money from the grieving, The Internal Revenue Service is today's Knucklehead of the Day.

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