The GOP's Phony Push to Abolish the IRS

The RNC is raising money from grassroots supporters with an ‘Abolish the IRS’ campaign. But the GOP will never do it, and candidates won’t get behind the idea.

08.29.14 9:45 AM ET

While there’s essentially zero chance that Republican legislators will seriously try to abolish the IRS anytime soon, that hasn’t stopped the Republican National Committee from raising money off the idea, despite the reluctance of GOP candidates to embrace the platform.  

This June, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told Newsmax TV that he was "on board with the idea of totally overhauling or ridding ourselves of the IRS and the tax code and coming up with a better system." 

The next day, the RNC Twitter account asked followers to, “Tell Washington to abolish the [IRS]” for being such a “corrupt, partisan” agency. The RNC’s website has a page simply titled, “Abolish the IRS.” 

“The IRS has betrayed the trust of the American people,” the webpage reads. “Sign the petition to abolish the IRS.” Naturally, signing the online petition involves giving up your email address, which will land you on a mailing list for potential donors and volunteers, and also take you to another webpage asking for a donation.

The RNC has continued this little-covered fundraising campaign throughout the summer. On Thursday, the RNC said they had already “invested nearly $100 million” in races around the country this year, and hoped to funnel an additional $8 million to candidates in “critical battleground states” before November’s midterm elections.

It's no secret that many Republicans dislike the Internal Revenue Service. Along with the general conservative distaste for taxation, last year’s controversy surrounding alleged IRS targeting of tea party and conservative groups took their disdain even further. 

But candidates in competitive districts across the country are silent when asked about abolishing the IRS. And while many have encouraged continued investigations into former IRS head Lois Lerner and the agency, there is little evidence that major Republican candidates support the RNC’s radical proposal.

The GOP Senate campaigns of Scott Brown in New Hampshire; Tom Cotton in Arkansas; Cory Gardner in Colorado; Monica Wehby in Oregon; Ed Gillespie in Virginia; and Joni Ernst in Iowa all did not respond to inquiries about whether they supported abolishing the IRS. And of those six candidates, only Ernst has intimated that she supports doing away with the agency.  

Still, RNC spokesman Sean Spicer insisted to The Daily Beast on Thursday that the party believes that most GOP candidates in competitive races want to abolish the IRS, and that doing so would be popular among swing voters. 

So why haven't candidates been more vocal about it?   

"I don't think every candidate speaks about every issue," he told the Beast.