The Treasury's Inspector General Just Released a Damning Report About the IRS Targeting Tea Party Groups

IRSIRSOn Friday of last week a representative of the IRS admitted that the agency had singled out conservative groups seeking nonprofit status for extra scrutiny. A new report released this afternoon by the Office of Inspector General of the Treasury--which you can read in full below--confirms that Tea Party groups were in fact being targeted for their politics. Here's the summary of findings: 

The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention.  Ineffective management: 1) allowed inappropriate criteria to be developed and stay in place for more than 18 months, 2) resulted in substantial delays in processing certain applications, and 3) allowed unnecessary information requests to be issued.

Treasury OIGTreasury OIG

Here's how the IRS set up its screening process: 

The Determinations Unit developed and began using criteria to identify potential political cases for review that inappropriately identified specific groups applying for tax-exempt status based on their names or policy positions instead of developing criteria based on tax-exempt laws and Treasury Regulations.

Thereafter, according to the IRS, a Determinations Unit specialist was asked to search for applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in the organization’s name as well as other “political-sounding” names.  EO function officials stated that, in May 2010, the Determinations Unit began developing a spreadsheet that would become known as the “Be On the Look Out” listing (hereafter referred to as the BOLO listing),15 which included the emerging issue of Tea Party applications.  In June 2010, the Determinations Unit began training its specialists on issues  to be aware of, including Tea Party cases.  By July 2010, Determinations Unit management  stated that it had requested its specialists to be on the lookout for Tea Party applications.

In August 2010, the Determinations Unit distributed the first formal BOLO listing. The criteria in the BOLO listing were Tea Party organizations applying for I.R.C. ß 501(c)(3) or I.R.C. ß 501(c)(4) status.  Based on our review of other BOLO listing criteria, the use of organization names on the BOLO listing is not unique to potential political cases.16 EO function officials stated that Determinations Unit specialists interpreted the general criteria in the BOLO listing and developed expanded criteria for identifying potential political cases.17 Figure 3 shows that, by June 2011, the expanded criteria included additional names (Patriots and  9/12 Project) as well as policy positions espoused by organizations in their applications. 

Treasury OIG Report on IRS Targeting Tea Party Groups

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • UCrawford||

    Yup...this is bad for the administration.

    One can only hope that it's impeachment bad...but then we've heard that about plenty of scandals before.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Obama is going to be praying for a terrorist attack or mass shooting.

  • Pro Libertate||

    War in Syria? War between China and Japan? Another terrorist attack?

  • PapayaSF||

    Eager for President Biden to have a leg up for re-election in 2016?

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    I always figgered Biden was Obama's protection against assassination or impeachment. And maybe that's why he turned so sloppy right after the election. But Biden ... The GOP has gone out of their way to pick the worst candidates possible recently, but could they top Biden?

  • AlmightyJB||

    I do wonder after the gun control loss, the scandles and the deflated enthusiasm by the media and dems for Obamacare if after only 4 months into his second term he's already a lame duck.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I eagerly await the wave of firings up and down the IRS chain of command that authorized this witch hunt.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Aren't they getting much bigger, now that they're the nation's Medicine Czar or whatever?

  • Hyperion||

    Bigger, more powerful, more costly, more corrupt, less accountable.

    That's the goal of every bureaucracy ever created, and the IRS are over achievers.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, let's hope these scandals slow down that bus.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It sounds like it's a lot worse than what's been documented, too.

    Not to jump the gun, but I think it would be worth Hit & Run's time to list the articles of impeachment for Nixon. For instance, from Article II:

    He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.
  • ||

    Wow!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Like I said, this scandal may not run that high, but the fact that it was considered an impeachable offense back then shows how serious this really is.

  • Hyperion||

    That was back in the days before the media became nothing more than the propaganda wing of the current establishment.

    Plus, the all important factor, Nixon was a Republican. If Obama was a Republican, I have no doubt that he would be impeached over all of these scandals. But as it is, nothing will happen to him.

  • JWatts||

    Exactly this, there is no chance any of this affecting Obama.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Not to mention we're at war now.

  • Blake||

    FDR may have started this. This from his son:

    “My father,” Elliott Roosevelt observed of his famous parent, “may have been the originator of the concept of employing the IRS as a weapon of political retribution.”

    There have been many since and normally nothing happens.

    The book "Power to Destroy: The Political Uses of the IRS from Kennedy to Nixon" covers most of them. Odds are nothing will come of this.

  • Blake||

    I got that quote from reason: http://reason.com/blog/2013/05.....tical-abus

    but I read about FDR yesterday:
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/.....y/2155967/

  • Pro Libertate||

    Holy cow.

  • Hyperion||

    There will be lots of bus tracks all over a lot of low level folks in DC because of this and Benghazi.

    And that will be the end of the story.

    Nothing at all will happen to anyone higher up in any of these agencies, let alone their being even the slightest chance of Obama, Hillary, Holder, or any other of the DC Teflon crowd being affected, at all.

    After Fast and Furious, they knew they could get away with anything, and we haven't seen nothing yet.

  • Irish||

    One of Drudge's editors is claiming that a CIA informant has told him that there is still one more scandal that hasn't dropped yet and is going to come out of the CIA.

    It's a total rumor and there is no supporting evidence. However, if something else hits in addition to all of this, it could be explosive. I wouldn't be surprised if the heads of some higher ups ended up rolling.

  • SIV||

    I wouldn't be surprised if the heads of some higher ups ended up rolling.

    Literally. Although that distasteful rolling wouldn't be an issue if the heads were impaled on pikes.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    claiming that a CIA informant has told him that there is still one more scandal that hasn't dropped yet and is going to come out of the CIA.

    is he also claiming that water is wet?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I hope you're wrong but suspect you're right. I doubt very seriously that this will get up to cabinet level, let alone any higher, as far as any removals are concerned.

  • ||

    It's sad too because it shouldn't matter. If nobody in the upper levels were involved in these scandals then the alternative is that they are incredibly incompetent and negligent in their duties.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's certainly my view. Of course, I don't buy for a second that all of these scandals don't go all the way up. In fact, I doubt even the sycophants truly believe otherwise.

  • Loki||

    Unfortunately I think you're probably right. The days of any "D" administration ever being held accountable for anything are long gone. Sometime I wish I weren't so cynical, but then I realize it's not cynicism, but realism.

  • PapayaSF||

    Dig this:

    Lois Lerner, the senior IRS official at the center of the decision to target Tea Party groups for burdensome tax scrutiny, signed paperwork granting tax-exempt status to the Barack H. Obama Foundation, a shady charity headed by the president’s half-brother that operated illegally for years.
    According to the organization’s filings, Lerner approved the Foundation’s tax status within a month of filing, an unprecedented timeline that stands in stark contrast to conservative organizations that have been waiting for more than three years, in some cases, for approval.
    Lerner also appears to have broken with the norms of tax-exemption approval by granting retroactive tax-exempt status to Malik Obama’s organization.

    Get your popcorn, folks. This is going to be good.

  • Hyperion||

    It would be really good if anything was going to happen to any of these corruptocrats, like them going to jail. But they are all living above the law, and nothing of any consequence is going to happen to them. And they know it.

  • PapayaSF||

    I'm not so sure. Obama is going to need scapegoats. Lots of them.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Impeach Bush!

  • Hyperion||

    Right now, he is in the Oval office with a little RF bus circling the room. Each time it goes by he tosses a little beanie figure with a name tag on it, to see which ones get stuck under the bus.

    Jay Carney retrieves the stuck ones and puts them in a special box for later...

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    He only needs one: Bush

  • SweatingGin||

    "Let me be clear...uh I've made it, uh clear, that it's not acceptable for that Bush appointee, uh... Attorney general holder...uh to sieze journalists uh phone records... And uh... Right after my inauguration I'll stop that practice."

  • General Butt Naked||

    You forgot, "There are those that say..... uhhhhh ummmmmm errrrrr..."

    I think a sure sign that we are fucking doomed as a nation is the fact that Dear Leader is considered and exceptional orator. Fuck, man.

  • SugarFree||

    It took them most of the day, but Slate finally figured out a plausible-to-idiots way to blame it on Republicans.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    But the larger picture here shows why the IRS felt itself forced into the role of campaign finance regulator, and why people also are calling for the Securities and Exchange Commission and state attorneys general to regulate campaign contributions. This is all about the failure of Congress to require the disclosure of donors who bankroll designed to influence elections.

    Poor poor IRS, forced to to regulate campaign finances by the mean Rethuglican congress!

  • SugarFree||

    It's hands were tied! Tied!

  • Hugh Akston||

    It all goes back to Citizen United, naturally. If not for that, the IRS wouldn't have been forced to target Great Leader's political enemies.

  • Sevo||

    Hugh Akston| 5.14.13 @ 6:32PM |#
    "It all goes back to Citizen United, naturally."

    That was Pelosi's claim this morning; the extension of A-1 protections means the IRS *had* to land on right-wing groups!
    I'm surprised someone on her staff didn't suggest she keep her yap shut.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Believe it or not, they're actually blaming it on Citizens United!

    I'm not even sure that's plausible-to-idiots!

  • ||

    Not only do I believe it, I'm not even surprised. I assumed this would be their defense as soon as it broke. I mean, of course the IRS should deny these people tax-exempt status, because KOCHTOPUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

  • ||

    The first talking point I heard from friends was that this category of group was shady anyway and so the whole "scandal" didn't matter. The more recent one was that it's all a Jay Sekulow/ACLJ production, and therefor doesn't matter.

  • ||

    Yep, exactly. My bf was hanging out with someone last week who was non-BLUE enough to be reading about the Fair Tax and getting all into it, but still thought this was no big deal because duh everyone knows Tea Party groups are sketch.

  • Irish||

    To be fair, you live in Chicago. People in Chicago are so used to political corruption that it barely even registers anymore. I assume this is like the 40th sketchiest thing involving a politician from Chicago that happened this week.

    You know Rahm Emanuel has personally murdered at least one person in the last month. At least.

  • ||

    Oh for sure. There was still something funny about, "So P is reading about the Fair Tax, I guess he really likes it" mixed with "Yeah, P didn't think the IRS thing was a big deal" -- I mean since they're both tax-related!

    I mean it's not like I am surprised by the IRS being corrupt either, but I still think they actually did something wrong.

  • PapayaSF||

    A complex bureaucracy has failed, and the only solution is a more complex bureaucracy.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Who else would have the experience?

    Also need to train future auditers as Obamacare ramps up.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    This is all about the failure of Congress to require the disclosure of donors who bankroll designed to influence elections.

    Hey, remember when Obama turned off the credit card security on his website so anybody could donate any amount of money from anywhere? That was big news in Slate, to be sure!

    I get their point, though. Surely groups who call themselves "patriots" or "tea parties" or talk about "making America a better place to live" are far more likely to be hiding shady donations.

  • Brandybuck||

    The difference is that the media hated Nixon, while they love Obama. Ain't nothing going to take the shine off of Obama.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Except maybe, I dunno, mistreating the media? That revelation couldn't have come at a worse time for the administration: "Fuck me? No, fuck you!"

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    Meh, they will forget about it in a week and will be back to 100% Obama bootlicking.

  • Hyperion||

    Nope, not even that. They will complain a little and go right back to being the obedient boot licking sheep that they are.

  • Irish||

    I know that this is standard libertarian cynicism, but I don't necessarily agree. There were already some people who had been Obama bootlickers who were starting to realize that there was some truth to the Benghazi claims.

    The fact that the IRS and AP stories immediately hit seems like something they aren't going to be able to ignore.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    I hope that some of these starry eyed believers wake up but it is just gets harder everyday to believe that enough people are going to go against the free stuff government they now have.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I think a few tongues are coming off after all of this. Some will stay on, but maybe enough will to break up the chorus.

  • Fluffy||

    "That's going on the BOLO list," is now officially added to my list of catchphrases.

  • SugarFree||

    One of the watch phrases was "make America a better place to live." Either Obama's America is the ontological Best of All Possible Worlds (implying that any change would be a change for the worst) or they are not interested in investing lobby/pressure groups that explicitly want to "make America a worse place to live."

    Their evil is only constrained by their idiocy.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Don't blame me, I voted for Dr. Pangloss.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This explains why the put everything out there now. They figured the press might actually report on this and on Benghazi and on the AP wiretaps. Get out there all at once so that the next new, shiny object comes along wipes all three off journalists' radar.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Sounds like they got busted, not that they are revealing anything.

  • Hyperion||

    Politician is todays perfect job.

    You need no skills at all, nothing. You can be the dumbest person in town, the lowest skilled, the most morally bankrupt, and the least trustworthy. Matter of fact, all of those things are a big plus for the job of public office.

    The only one skill that will come in handy, if in fact you can call it a skill, is to be able to lie straight face to anyone and everyone and have absolutely no conscious at all about said lying, or anything else that you do, as long as it results in personal gain for you or your friends, or partners in crime.

    And once elected? You don't have to know, or do, anything, and have absolutely no responsibility or accountability for anything.

    Your only duties now are to steal, steal, and steal some more. Pass some of it on to your friends, and spend most of your time living it up on your stolen money. Why, you can even use it to get reelected again by your brain dead constituents. Don't worry, no matter what you do, they are too stupid to vote you out!

  • Tony||

    Inappropriate methods were used and some heads should roll. The big problem though is the murkiness of the new tax exemption treatment of organizations that are obviously and ostentatiously political.

  • PapayaSF||

    Yeah, that's the problem, not the obviously partisan way in which the regulations have been enforced. You want to educate people about the Constitution? Very suspicious! Please send all this intrusive documentation about family members, "indirect communications" with elected officials, projected future revenue, etc., and be prepared to wait for years.

    On the other hand, you're Obama's skeezy half-brother? We'll zoom your application through in record time, and make it retroactive to boot! Welcome to the world of tax-exemption!

  • ||

    "The big problem though is the murkiness of the new tax exemption treatment of organizations that are obviously and ostentatiously political."

    Murkiness huh? So Shitweasel's brother's organization had to wait the same amount of time as everyone else to be approved because of murkiness? Oh...wait...

    Goddamn Tony. You really would defend the dems if they raped nuns on live TV, wouldnt you?

    I think you are a fanatic to the core. Name one thing that would cause you not to defend them. What would finally do it for you?

  • Irish||

    Hey, guys. Remember earlier when Tony tried to claim that the GOP had doctored Benghazi emails?

    According to ABC, that's not what happened at all! Apparently the source that initially reported what was in the emails was not allowed to make copies of the emails. As a result, he was writing about what the emails said from notes he'd taken. Here's the explanation they give about very slight differences in the original account of the emails and what the emails actually said.

    This was my source's response, via e-mail: "WH reply was after a long chain of email about State Dept concerns. So when WH emailer says, take into account all equities, he is talking about the State equities, since that is what the email chain was about."

    So the only reason there were slight differences in the account was because the White House was refusing to release copies of the emails and this resulted in slight inaccuracies in the way it was reported, even though the substance of the emails remains the same.

    The slight differences actually make the White House look worse, since they purposefully created the problem by refusing to release the emails in the first place. Transparency!

  • ||

    This is just more proof that what the left needs is another Matt Drudge:

    Organizing for Action is fine, but what is needed, as well, is support for media structures similar to Drudge, state party-building outside of Washington and grassroots movements that transcend any one president at any given moment.

    http://thehill.com/opinion/col.....s-a-drudge

    Wait...haven't they been saying this since '98? It's almost as old as the whole "the left needs a Rush Limbaugh."

  • ||

    And of course Tony and Obama's Buttplug are nowhere to be found in this thread, or the Obamacare/coverage switch thread. Funny that.

  • ||

    My mistake, Tony is already being raked over the coals.

  • WomSom||

    Sometimes man you gotta over over the mountain and through the woods!

    www.Proxy-Anon.tk

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    To Grandmother's house!

  • dinkster||

    "The incestuous GILF" There's a right proper reason forum handle.

  • John C. Randolph||

    I'm hoping that this will make all of the Tea Party adherents into implacable enemies of the IRS, and that they'll now focus on abolishing that agency.

    -jcr

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement