The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Community News Network

May 14, 2013

IRS focus on Tea Party groups to be subject of criminal probe

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a criminal investigation into the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of small-government advocacy groups for extra scrutiny.

"The FBI is coordinating with the Justice Department to see if any laws were broken in connection with those matters related to the IRS," Holder said in response to a question at a news conference Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, the White House said it had no involvement in the matter and that it is awaiting an inspector general's report before deciding how to respond to the treatment of the advocacy groups as they sought tax exemptions as nonprofit organizations.

"I am certainly not aware and am confident that no one here was involved in this," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in Washington. "We have to find out exactly what happened."

A report by the inspector general that oversees the IRS is due to be released Wednesday, officials from the inspector general's office told congressional staff members at a meeting Monday, said a Democratic aide who requested anonymity to discuss the private conversation.

The IRS decision to use words such as "tea party" and "patriot" to sort through the applications has ballooned into a scandal that has led to four separate congressional inquiries.

Holder spoke about the planned investigation by his department and the FBI at a news conference in Washington.

The acting IRS commissioner said the agency's errors in targeting small-government groups stemmed from the lack of a "sufficient process" and weren't the result of partisanship.

In an opinion piece in USA Today, Steven Miller wrote that the IRS sought to centralize its handling of applications for tax-exempt status following a "sharp increase" in the number of applications, which more than doubled between 2010 and 2012.

"While centralizing cases for consistency made sense, the way we initially centralized them did not," he wrote. "The mistakes we made were due to the absence of a sufficient process for working the increase in cases and a lack of sensitivity to the implications of some of the decisions that were made."

President Barack Obama called it "outrageous" for the IRS to target groups promoting limited government for special attention.

 "If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on, and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous, and there's no place for it," Obama said Monday at a news conference at the White House.

The president said he first learned of the IRS targeting through news reports May 10. On that day Lois Lerner, the IRS official in charge of overseeing tax-exempt groups, acknowledged that the agency had targeted for special review groups promoting limited government and issued an apology.

Calls for congressional probes of the matter followed. They intensified after disclosures over the weekend that the Treasury Department inspector general's report found that IRS officials knew of the targeting of the groups as early as June 2011, nine months before the agency's head told lawmakers it wasn't occurring.

"The IRS knew what was happening yet they continued to give us assurances that they were applying the tax rules in a fair and impartial way," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday on the Senate floor. "The IRS was in fact singling out conservative groups, groups who dared to speak up and express their First Amendment rights."

The IRS hasn't explained why it didn't restart the screening process in June 2011, which was more than six months before it started sending inquiries to the groups.

 "Mistakes were made, but they were in no way due to any political or partisan motivation," Miller wrote.

"We fixed the situation last year, and have made significant progress in moving the centralized cases through our system," Miller continued, adding that more than half of the cases have been approved or withdrawn. "These applications, which came from all parts of the political spectrum, received the same, even-handed treatment."

The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a May 17 hearing with Miller and Inspector General J. Russell George as the only witnesses, according to a statement by panel Chairman Dave Camp and the committee's top Democrat, Sander Levin, both of Michigan.

 Rep. Charles Boustany, a Louisiana Republican and chairman of the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee, sent a letter to Miller demanding by May 15 all agency communication containing the words "tea party" and "patriot" as well as the names "of all individuals involved in this discrimination."

The IRS said in a statement that Miller was first notified by agency staff on May 3, 2012, that "some specific applications were improperly identified by name" and had been forwarded for further review.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus also said his panel would investigate. "Targeting groups based on their political views is not only inappropriate but it is intolerable," the Montana Democrat said in a statement yesterday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the allegations, if true, "would be a terrible breach of the public's trust." He said he had "full confidence" Baucus's panel would "get to the bottom of this matter and recommend appropriate action."

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa has said his panel will hold hearings on the IRS's actions, which he said represent a clear "abuse of power."

Rep. Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican on Issa's committee, introduced legislation Monday criminalizing IRS discrimination against individuals or groups based on political speech or expression. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, said he will introduce the measure in his chamber.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is expanding its inquiry of whether the IRS didn't enforce the law on tax-exempt groups to include the extra scrutiny it gave to Tea Party-affiliated groups.

Miller, the acting IRS commissioner since November, told lawmakers in July that the agency had grouped together advocacy organizations seeking nonprofit status "to ensure consistency, to ensure quality" without saying that some groups had been scrutinized for having words like "tea party" in their names.

According to a timeline from the inspector general's report, Miller became involved in the issue as early as March 8, 2012. That was 19 days before his predecessor, Douglas Shulman, testified to Congress that the IRS hadn't targeted groups based on ideology.

Anti-tax tea party groups, some of which include the word "patriot" in their names, formed after Obama took office in January 2009 and helped fuel gains by Republicans in the 2010 midterm election that gave the party control of the U.S. House.

In addition to groups with "tea party" and "patriot" in their names, other organizations selected for the additional IRS review included those in which "statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run," according to a June 29, 2011, briefing given to Lerner, the timetable says.

The IRS has been under pressure to regulate political spending by nonprofit groups, in particular those falling under Section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code. Organizations qualifying for that status don't have to disclose donors even when engaging in political activity.

               

               _ With assistance from Jonathan D. Salant, James Rowley, Andrew Zajac, Roger Runningen, Hans Nichols and Phil Mattingly in Washington.

bc-irs-bloomberg

    

WASHINGTON POST-BLOOMBERG--05-14-13 1530EDT



 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Must Read