In congressional testimony last year, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman denied accusations that the agency was targeting conservative groups for political reasons.
On Friday, IRS officials conceded that the agency had in fact subjected tax-exempt status applications from conservative and Tea Party-related organizations to greater scrutiny. The officials said that the agency had flagged groups that used the words “patriot” or “tea party” and that managers had sent out memos telling agency workers to give additional attention to Tea Party-affiliated local organizations, CNN notes.
The admissions come as the IRS inspector General prepares to release a report this week that indicates that IRS scrutiny of conservative groups began in 2010. In addition to the Tea Party, IRS officials singled out groups who criticized the size of the national debt and government spending.
Groups advocating for conservative causes had complained of delays in receiving tax exempt status and burdensome documentation demands from the IRS. The agency also now admits that senior officials were aware of the greater scrutiny given to conservative organizations by June 2011, nearly a year before the Commisioner’s testimony before Congress. IRS officials insist, however, that the Commissioner himself was unaware of the problem when he testified.
The revelations prompted calls from a number of congressional leaders for hearings on the issue.
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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