The Washington Examiner reported that an IRS agent told congressional investigators that the agency is still discriminating against Tea Party and conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status, despite long-standing claims by the Obama administration that the discrimination ended in May 2012.
The August 9 Examiner article by Paul Bedard cites an unnamed IRS agent being interviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee, who admits that he is still under direction to single out conservative groups for extra scrutiny from his supervisor:
Committee: If you saw — I am asking this currently, if today if a Tea Party case, a group — a case from a Tea Party group came in to your desk, you reviewed the file and there was no evidence of political activity, would you potentially approve that case? Is that something you would do?
IRS agent: At this point I would send it to secondary screening, political advocacy.
Committee: So you would treat a Tea Party group as a political advocacy case even if there was no evidence of political activity on the application. Is that right?
IRS agent: Based on my current manager's direction, uh-huh.
The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee has yet to make public the transcript quoted above.
Denial — or even delay — of a tax-exempt application can mean the loss of tens of thousands of dollars (or even more) in donations and grants to a non-profit organization, as most corporations and foundations will not donate to organizations without IRS tax-exempt approval. Discrimination against groups with “Tea Party,” “Patriot,” and “9/12” in their names — a fact acknowledged by the IRS between 2010 and 2012 — could easily have been deployed as a political tactic to strangle the Tea Party financially in its infancy.
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Photo of IRS field office in New York City