The IRS Scandal: Will It Sink Obama?

By:  Thomas R. Eddlem
05/20/2013
       
The IRS Scandal: Will It Sink Obama?

While Americans have gradually come to realize that the Internal Revenue Service was used as a partisan tool to attack the Tea Party movement over two election cycles, it is increasingly clear this scandal may become the biggest of the three scandals that rocked the Obama administration last week.

The IRS scandal involved the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division of the IRS openly targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups applying for tax-exempt 501(c)4 “social welfare” organization status between 2010 and 2012 for extra audits and agency scrutiny. The result was a focus of IRS audits — which can cost tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of employee hours to targeted organizations — upon the political Right, as well as delays of two years or longer in approving the tax-exempt status. Liberal groups were not selected for nearly as many audits, nor were they singled out by ideological code words, as conservatives had been.

And the Obama administration both promoted and granted more than $100,000 in bonuses to Sarah Hall Ingram, the administrator of the IRS division that implemented the politically-discriminatory policies. Ingram is now in charge of IRS enforcement of ObamaCare.

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George told the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee May 17 that his audit concluded:

• “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. Because of ineffective management by IRS officials: 1) inappropriate criteria were developed and stayed in place for a total of more than 18 months, 2) there were substantial delays in processing certain applications, and 3) unnecessary information requests were issued to the organizations.”

• “The IRS developed and began using criteria to identify tax-exempt applications for review by a team of specialists 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. The criteria evolved during 2010.”

• “In early Calendar Year 2010, according to an IRS Determinations Unit specialist, the IRS began searching for applications with “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” or “9/12” in the organization’s name as well as other “political-sounding” names.”

• “As of December 17, 2012, many organizations had not received an approval or denial letter for more than two years after they submitted their applications. Some cases have been open during two election cycles (2010 and 2012).”

Inspector-General George told Congress that the IRS had asked illegal questions of the target Tea Party organizations in the process of the audits, “including requests for donor information, position on issues, and whether officers have run for public office.” According to one published news report, the IRS even asked for the organization to report the content of their prayers. 

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Photo: AP Images

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