The inspector general's timeline indicates that as early as March 2010 the IRS's "Determinations Unit" had begun targeting for special scrutiny organizations that used in their tax-exempt applications the words "Tea Party" or "Patriots."
The IG's timeline says that in March-April 2010: "The Determinations Unit began searching for other requests for tax exemption involving the Tea Party, Patriots, 9/12 and I.R.C. § 501(c)(4) applications involving political sounding names, e.g., 'We the People' or 'Take Back the Country.'"
In July 2010, according to the IG's timeline: "Determinations Unit management requested its specialists to be on the lookout for Tea Party applications."
But by the beginning of the 2012 election year, the IRS had adjusted its "be on the lookout order" to more generally target groups that were involved in teaching people about the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
On Jan. 25, 2012, according to the inspector general's timeline: "The criteria was revised as 'political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform/movement.'"
On Friday, Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division responsible for reviewing applications for tax exempt status, apologized at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association for the IRS subjecting organizations with Tea Party or Patriot in their name to heightened scrutiny.