Only the IRS could unite right and left like this

Both sides are condemning the agency's targeting of Tea Party groups. The president says he won't tolerate it.

By Jonathan Berr May 13, 2013 12:42PM
US government 1040 tax form © Steven Puetzer/PhotographerLiberals and conservatives, who don't agree on much, are united in their condemnation of the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of groups associated with the Tea Party seeking tax-exempt status.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said, "I don't care if you're a conservative, a liberal, a Democrat or a Republican, this should send a chill up your spine." At left-wing Mother Jones, writer Kevin Drum argues that the scandal is being overblown but adds that "conservatives are right to be outraged and right to demand a full investigation. They suspect there might be more to it, and so would I if the shoe were on the other foot."

Speaking Monday to reporters, President Barack Obama also said he wants to get to the bottom of the issue. He added that he won't tolerate the IRS' acting politically, calling such activity outrageous.

The IRS seems to have been caught flat-footed by the surging popularity of the Tea Party.

According to The New York Times, applications for 501 (c) (4) tax-exempt status nearly doubled to more than 2,400 between 2010 and 2012. Workers at the IRS field office in Cincinnati, where such applications are processed, set 300 applications aside for further scrutiny. First, they targeted groups with the name "Tea Party"  or "patriot" in their names. 

Then, as the Washington Post noted, they took the effort a step further, scrutinizing groups that were critical of the government or that sought to educate people about the U.S. Constitution.

Lois Lerner, the IRS official in charge of the division that overseas nonprofit organizations, has portrayed this situation as a bureaucratic mix-up and has apologized. She has added that the agency has taken steps to ensure that a similar situation does not occur again.

Lerner's assurances obviously aren't going be good enough for members of Congress, who will want to hold hearings on the issue, particularly since former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman testified last year that this type of targeting wasn't occurring. The White House also needs to zero in on this matter to make sure that the IRS doesn't have a political agenda and that taxpayers believe it.

What may get lost in the bigger picture, however, is that nonprofit organizations with partisan agendas are growing, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which did away with most restrictions on campaign contributions. The IRS can do little about this problem, because laws are too weak.
 
According to the Daily Beast, so-called C4 organizations have roughly a 0.1% chance of being audited. Workers in the Cincinnati field office were trying to remedy this situation but unfortunately went about it the wrong way.

Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter @jdberr.

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240Comments
May 13, 2013 1:37PM
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Gee, I wonder why they are being condemed now instead of a year ago, or even 7-8 months ago.

 

I guess we didn't want to find out during an election that there might be a possiblity that people up top are targeting opponents through IRS now.  That might have caused a certain someone their election, but didn't want that to tarnish his lousy record even further.... 

May 13, 2013 1:42PM
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I think that this kind of scrutiny by the IRS should be extended to all organizations seeking tax exempt status, especially ones who can spend money on campaigns. There is no reason that an organization that spend money in politics should be allowed to operate as a tax-exempt organization
May 13, 2013 1:55PM
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Obama calls the IRS targeting "Outrageous", and at the same press conference he calls the Benghazi investigation a "Sideshow".  Yeah, it's a sideshow, because the main attraction is the circus clown Obama.
May 13, 2013 1:39PM
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Right, right, right.  So, what is Barry going to do to even this up?  Will he have the IRS to go after ACORN, the political activist organization that supports all democratic initiatives to re-distribute working people's earnings among the lazy, derelicts, and shysters that vote double time for the dems that also support this idealogy?
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Apologies are worthless, this needs to be followed through with criminal prosecution, jail time and loss of benefits!

The IRS must be forcibly as blind as justice!
May 13, 2013 1:44PM
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I call bull chit on this story. The liberals don't care they cheer this targeting of the Tea Party. They are so radical in their hate they can turn their back on every freedom and people's rights to get it their way..............
May 13, 2013 2:36PM
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The main stream media is now completely in the tank for the demcorats.  They are just now putting ANY importance on the lies and cover up of Benghazi.  Hillary was the one in charge of the State Dept. and she is on film screaming.....what difference does it make now?  Now the IRS is abusing it's power and the media is FINALLY covering it, even though the conservative groups were complaining about it, and it was known BEFORE this last election as was Benghazi,  the media buried it.  They care only about the truth if it is about conservatives or Republicans. The Democrats TRUTH get's ignored.  The truth should matter to the press, whether they are Republican or Democrat.  It DOES matter to fair minded Americans.
May 13, 2013 2:59PM
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It's funny.  The President knew this was going on.  He had to know.  It was all over the news a year ago. Everyone knew.  It wasn't a secret.

 

Now ... only now ... does he find it "outrageous".  It wasn't outrageous then, not when the IRS was badgering his political adversaries in an election year.

 

But ... then again ... this is the man heading up the same government that called conservatives a threat to homeland security while basically ignoring the real cause of 99% of the terrorism in the world.

May 13, 2013 3:08PM
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What is evident is that IRS, by its own admission,  selected only certain organizations for special scrutiny.  Laws were passed following Watergate to prevent exactly this kind of targeted abuse by the IRS.  An apology by the IRS division chief for 'rogue actions by some low level employees' is insufficient to forgive criminal behavior.  Just like Watergate, a time line is necessary to establish who knew what and when and this requires a thorough investigation. 
May 13, 2013 2:09PM
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and targeted people as well.  I was paying 700 a month until my case was finally reviewed.  It's sickening to see what the liberals are doing to this once free country.
May 13, 2013 2:04PM
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Now if they could come to some consensus that Westboro Baptist Minister Church of Topeka, Ks. is not a church but a school and culture of HATE and strip them of their tax exempt status !!!.
May 13, 2013 3:01PM
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The president is a professional liar.  We'll see what he "won't tolerate" when the heads start to roll.
May 13, 2013 3:14PM
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The president was just fine with "tolerating it" until they were caught.

How many overpaid government employees have been fired?

Looks like he is still tolerating it to me.

May 13, 2013 3:07PM
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Article 2 sub section 1 of Richar Nixon's Articles of Impeachment:

 

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.

 

This is an impeachable offense.  What is Congress waiting for?

May 13, 2013 2:27PM
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What part of government doesn't have a political agenda?
May 13, 2013 2:08PM
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501(c)4 were created as a political vehicle of the elite while avoiding taxes. Meanwhile these groups can pay more to those running these Farce Organizations than what many make in the public sector of for Profit. Most are a scam. That will be lost by most following this particular topic.
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Anyone surprised at the liberal acceptance of the pure inequality of this issue?

The least tolerant, the most judgmental, the ability to justify the frivolity of the constitution  ......... but only when it fits their twisted personal agenda!
May 13, 2013 1:57PM
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commissioner shulman came from finra where he reported to mary shapiro, who later headed, without distinction, the sec. when you come from an apologist agency for the financial industry do not expect any deep thinking. shulman was a bureaucrat through and through. acting commissioner miller was once in the exempt entity area and ought to be considered armed and dangerous. he would not know what private enterprise was if it jumped up and bit him. although the irs has generally been a shoot first and get the information later agency, it is truly rudderless today. there was once a time when the agency had people who understood the code even if they did not apply it with equanimity. today, i would guess less than 10% of the employees understand the law. good luck.
May 13, 2013 3:07PM
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Lib scum is coming down on the side of the tea party?  Wow.  I would think they would be sending the IRS letters of encouragement.  Lib scum only believes in the bill of rights for themselves.  They don't' feel conservative should have any rights at all, including the right to live.

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