The Internal Revenue Service said Thursday that it has delayed and is revamping new rules intended to curb political activity by tax-exempt groups and that were proposed after the agency was accused last year of targeting Tea Party groups.
The I.R.S. said it made the decision after receiving 150,000 comments — both positive and negative — about the proposal, the biggest public response to any proposed rule in its history. The decision postpones public hearings originally expected for this summer.
The proposal is intended to clarify how the I.R.S. defines political activity and how much nonprofit groups are allowed to spend on it. Nonprofit groups ranging from Americans for Prosperity, a free-market grass-roots organization co-founded by the billionaires Charles and David Koch, to the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental organization that chiefly supports Democrats, are expected to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the battle for control of Congress in November. The delay announced Thursday means the new rules will not be in place before Election Day.
"Given the diversity of views expressed and the volume of substantive input, we have concluded that it would be more efficient and useful to hold a public hearing after we publish the revised proposed regulation," said Bruce Friedland, an I.R.S. spokesman.