Tag Archives | IRS

IRS Disclosed Confidential Material Too

ProPublica reports:

The same IRS office that deliberatelytargeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year.

The IRS did not respond to requests Monday following up about that release, and whether it had determined how the applications were sent to ProPublica.

In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved—meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We made sixof those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that the targeting of conservative groups occurred in multiple offices, including Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, the NYT reports the I.R.S. ignored complaints about the potential misuse of tax exempt status by large political oriented groups, including those that were heavily involved in the 2012 campaign.  Apparently it was too busy chasing after the Tea Party.

UPDATE: The AP reports Acting IRS Chief Steven Miller failed to disclose the problem to Congress after he was briefed.

 

 

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IRS Scrutinized Teaching the Constitution

The Washington Post reports this gem:

At various points over the past two years, Internal Revenue Service officials targeted nonprofit groups that criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution, according to documents in an audit conducted by the agency’s inspector general.

The documents, obtained by The Washington Post  from a congressional aide with knowledge of the findings, show that on June 29, 2011, IRS staffers held a briefing with senior agency official Lois G. Lerner in which they described giving special attention to instances where “statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run.” Lerner, who  oversees tax-exempt groups for the agency, raised objections and the agency revised its criteria a week later.

But six months later, the IRS applied a new political test to groups that applied for tax-exempt status as “social welfare” groups, the document says. On Jan. 15, 2012 the agency decided to target “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform movement.,” according to the appendix in the IG report, which was requested by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and has yet to be released.

It seems some at the IRS are definitely in need of some constitutional education themselves.

The WSJ also reports:

The Internal Revenue Service’s scrutiny of conservative groups went beyond those with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names—as the agency admitted Friday—to also include ones worried about government spending, debt or taxes, and even ones that lobbied to “make America a better place to live,” according to new details of a government probe.

The investigation also revealed that a high-ranking IRS official knew as early as mid-2011 that conservative groups were being inappropriately targeted—nearly a year before then-IRS

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IRS Officials Knew of Targeting in 2011

AP, The Hill and Politico are all reporting that senior IRS officials were aware that Tea Party groups were being targeted as early as 2011.  The disclosure is reportedly contained in a draft inspector general report that is due to  be released later this year.  In March 2012, the IRS Commissioner denied charges that the IRS was targeting groups on political or ideological grounds in a congressional hearing.

Rick Hasen has posted a transcript of the the IRS official’s “apology” from this past week.

Paul Caron has rounded up some early press and editorial coverage, including two highly critical editorials from the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.

UPDATE: John Steele wonders about a legal ethics angle (given that a “chief counsel” was aware of the conduct well before it was disclosed).

The NYT‘s Ross Douthat comments:

Even though an American Civil Liberties Union official described their excessive interest in right-wing groups as “about as constitutionally troubling as it gets,” the bureaucrats in question probably thought they were just doing their patriotic duty, and giving dangerous extremists the treatment they deserved.

Where might an enterprising, public-spirited I.R.S. agent get the idea that a Tea Party group deserved more scrutiny from the government than the typical band of activists seeking tax-exempt status? Oh, I don’t know: why, maybe from all the prominent voices who spent the first two years of the Obama era worrying that the Tea Party wasn’t just a typically messy expression of citizen activism, but something much darker — an expression of crypto-fascist, crypto-racist rage, part Timothy McVeigh and part Bull Connor, potentially carrying a wave of terrorist violence in its wings.

UPDATE: Joe Klein comments:

The Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups is outrageous. Those who did this should be

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IRS Admits Targeting “Tea Party” Groups

Some conservative and libertarian groups have long suspected that the Internal Revenue Service has targeted right-leaning non-profits for extra scrutiny, but such allegations were always difficult to prove (and often sounded a bit conspiratorial).  Now, however, the head of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations has admitted her division targeted “tea party” and “patriot” groups — and apologized for it.  In addition, the IRS apparently asked some groups for donor lists, even though such requests are usually contrary to IRS policy.  (Hat tip: Rick Hasen, whose first comment was”Wow.”)  As they say, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you.

UPDATE: The New York Times offers a decidedly different view. [To be fair, this editorial is from last year.]

SECOND UPDATE: Hasen has posted the IRS statement. “Mistakes were made.”  Hasen comments: “This is not one of the best days for the IRS.  Conservatives are absolutely right to call for a congressional investigation of this one, even if it turns out to be an isolated problem.”

THIRD UPDATE: Here are excerpts from some of the relevant  document requests, and a Congressional inquiry about some of these requests from last year. [...]

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