- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2013

An independent government watchdog said the Internal Revenue Service used “inappropriate criteria” and blamed “ineffective management” when reviewing applications from tea party groups seeking tax exempt status.

The assessment from the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration was included in the result of a year-long investigation into complaints the IRS singled out tea party and other conservative groups during the 2012 election season.

The report, released Tuesday, suggested lax management resulted in long delays in processing certain applications and allowed “unnecessary information requests to be issued.”

The inspector general recommended several interim reforms, including better documenting the reasons why IRS agents believe certain groups are chosen for review.

In their response to the inspector general’s report, the watchdog said IRS officials agreed with seven of its nine recommendations.

Republicans meanwhile on Tuesday amped up their attacks on the IRS amid new revelations that top agency officials withheld information last year during congressional inquires into reports the IRS targeted conservative groups for extras scrutiny.

SEE ALSO: Scandals drown out Obama’s message on economy

And tea party groups fueled fire for an employee purge at the tax collecting agency, saying those responsible for the scandal must resign or be sacked immediately.

Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups, on Friday admitted that organizations applying for tax-exempt status during the 2012 election season were singled out for heightened scrutiny if they had “tea party” or “patriot” in their titles. In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most case.

She apologized for the “inappropriate” practice and said the cases were initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati, though she failed mentioned some senior IRS officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as June 2011, according to an inspector general’s timeline of events obtained by The Washington Times.

The IRS says its targets of tea party and other conservative groups weren’t politically motivated but rather an attempt to vet a burgeoning list of tea party-related groups that applied for tax exempt status in the lead up to the 2012 elections.

In an opinion piece in Tuesday’s USA Today, Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller conceded the agency now “recognizes that we should have done a better job of handling the influx of applications by advocacy organizations.”



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