IRS also abused conservative groups that already had tax exempt status
The IRS subjected conservative groups already granted tax-exempt status to additional scrutiny during the 2012 election cycle, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) charged on Monday.There appears to have been an institutional bias toward conservatives. Congress needs to quickly find out who was pushing these abusive practices. They should not let the IRS and the administration drag out the process.
Issa called on a Treasury watchdog already looking into the IRS to look into the matter, and signaled he would expand his committee’s probe into improper targeting of political groups given the new revelations.
He said the Virginia-based Leadership Institute was audited in 2011 and 2012 for activities it engaged in during the 2008 election year, even though it had functioned as a tax-exempt organization since 1979.
It faced “invasive questions” — including about its interns and where they went on to work — and ended up turning over to the IRS more than 23,000 pages of documents at a cost of roughly $50,000 to comply with the inquiry, Issa said.
“It has come to the attention of the committee that in addition to inappropriate treatment given to some applicants for tax-exempt status, existing organizations already recognized as tax-exempt by the IRS, appear to have faced questionable treatment by the IRS,” Issa wrote Monday in a letter to the Treasury inspector general for tax administration (IG).
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an Oversight subcommittee chairman, also signed on to the request that the Treasury watchdog do a second investigation.
Issa said the Institute was told by the IRS office conducting the audit that there would be follow-up document requests and questions. About two months later, in July 2012, the IRS concluded the audit, which is roughly the same time the Treasury inspector general determined the IRS changed its process for scrutinizing potential political groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Issa specifically questioned whether the IRS had a “systematic” plan in place to automatically review conservative groups several years after granting an exemption. He said that interviews with 18 IRS employees indicated that at least some Tea Party groups were referred to the unit that conducted follow-up scrutiny.