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The audit notes overt double standards by an agency that demanded prompt information from applicants.
“These letters requested that the information be provided in two or three weeks (as is customary in these letters) despite the fact that the IRS had done nothing with some of the applications for more than one year,” the TIGTA report states.
When the agency did in 2011 correct the criteria used in signaling out the conservative groups, IRS specialists “subsequently changed the criteria in January 2012 without executive approval because they believed the July 2011 criteria were too broad,” the audit notes.
“The January 2012 criteria again focused on the policy positions of organizations instead of tax-exempt laws and Treasury Regulations. After three months, the Director, Rulings and Agreements, learned the criteria had been changed by the team of specialists and subsequently revised the criteria again in May 2012,” the report adds.
TIGTA has made nine recommendations to fix its problems, including “better documenting the reasons why applications potentially involving political campaign intervention are chosen for review.” The inspector general also wants to the see the IRS develop and publish tax-exempt guidance, and “before each election cycle, expeditiously resolve remaining political intervention cases.”
The IRS’ response: Yeah, we see your point on seven of the nine recommendations, but we’ve got our own corrective action plans for the other two, thanks.
“TIGTA does not agree that the alternative corrective actions will accomplish the intent of the recommendations and continues to believe that the IRS should better document the reasons why applications potentially involving political campaign intervention are chosen for review and develop and publish guidance,” the audit notes.
The IRS did not return a request for comment.
A version of this article originally appeared at Watchdog.org.