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Hullabaloo


Friday, May 10, 2013

 
Yeah sure, there's nothing political about the IRS targeting the Tea Party

by digby

This is exactly the kind of thing that gives conspiracy theorists fodder for their conspiracies and makes all of us mistrust the institution of government as a whole:

The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status, a top IRS official said Friday.

Organizations were singled out because they included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups.

In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.

"That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That's not how we go about selecting cases for further review," Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association.

"The IRS would like to apologize for that," she added.

Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias. After her talk, she told The AP that no high level IRS officials knew about the practice. She did not say when they found out.

Many conservative groups complained during the election that they were being harassed by the IRS. They accused the agency of frustrating their attempts to become tax exempt by sending them lengthy, intrusive questionnaires.

The forms, which the groups made available at the time, sought information about group members' political activities, including details of their postings on social networking websites and about family members.

Certain tax-exempt charitable groups can conduct political activities but it cannot be their primary activity.

IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told Congress in March 2012 that the IRS was not targeting groups based on their political views.

"There's absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people" who apply for tax-exempt status, Shulman told a House Ways and Means subcommittee.

Oh bullshit.

And here's the thing: they went after the little guys, the grassroots groups. I happen to think the Tea Party is a blight our politics, but I sure as hell think they have a right to engage in political activism without being singled out and harassed.

And anyway, the real bad guys in the dark money world of politics are the big institutional groups on both sides who have been abusing their tax exempt status for years. It's led to a total debasement of the political system. If the IRS chose to take a look at some of them, it might make sense. But going after the Tea Party groups based on the fact that they have the words "patriot" in their name is so ironic I honestly don't know what to say.


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