The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has provided a timeline to congressional staff that indicates that in the 2010 election year the Internal Revenue Service instructed officials in its "Determinations Unit" to "be on the lookout for" organizations applying for tax exempt status that used the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications.
By January 2012, at the beginning of a presidential election year, according to the timeline, the IRS broadened its "be on the lookout order" to target groups that were involved in educating people on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Now the Ways and Means Committee, which is investigating the matter, has publicly posed what it calls 'The Top 10 Questions for the IRS." These include: When did the White House know?
“The IRS absolutely must be non-partisan in its enforcement of our tax laws. The admission by the agency that it targeted American taxpayers based on politics is both shocking and disappointing," said Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R.-Mich.). "The Committee on Ways and Means will thoroughly investigate this matter and will soon hold a hearing to get to the bottom of this situation. We will hold the IRS accountable for its actions.”
Here are the committee's questions:
What did the IRS know and when?
The Top 10 questions for the IRS
1. Beginning with an inquiry in June 2011, the House Ways and Means Committee has repeatedly asked the IRS for verification about whether or not it was targeting groups based on their political philosophies. On repeated occasions, including at a March 2012 Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee hearing, the IRS explicitly denied such activities had occurred. Now, widespread media reports confirm that the agency learned of these practices just three weeks after the Committee made its initial inquiry related to these groups – nearly 2 years ago. How many times did the IRS lie to Congress about this issue?
2. What words were used in the targeting campaign? We know “tea party,” “patriots” and “conservative” were used.
3. We know words targeting conservative-leaning organizations were used. What about words like “progressive" or "green”? What proof, if any, has IRS provided to demonstrate this was not a politically motivated act? Were any personnel ever directed to delay processing of certain 501(c )(4) applications until after the election?
4. When was the IRS Commissioner informed? When were the White House and Treasury made aware that groups were being targeted based on their political philosophies? How did the White House and Treasury respond when they were made aware that conservative groups were being targeted?
5. When the IRS Commissioner was made aware of these unlawful practices, what steps were taken, if any, to halt the harassment of conservative organizations? Who was disciplined regarding these practices, if anyone?
6. Who were the employees that made these decisions, and what guidance were they provided with from Washington, if any, to pursue their work in this manner? Who are these employees? Were these political appointees? Were they hired through the process established by the Ramspeck Act (where some, including staff whose Members have lost or retired, receive placement assistance in an agency setting)?
7. It is clear from the TIGTA timeline that IRS was targeting those with conservative political philosophies as early as 2010. It is well documented that active Congressional investigations were going on pertaining to this subject – why wasn’t Congress immediately notified when IRS became aware that groups were, in fact, actively being targeted?
8. How widespread was the campaign to target conservative groups? We’ve heard about Ohio, a longtime bellwether state in political elections. What has IRS done, if anything, to identify whether this practice of targeting specific groups was occurring in IRS offices in other states?
9. Why is IRS apologizing now? IRS waited until well after the 2012 election cycle to issue a public apology for targeting these groups, but never informed Congress of its intent to do so, despite ongoing investigations. Why didn’t they inform Congress of their intent to do so?
10. What steps, if any, has IRS taken to ensure that the targeting of individuals and organizations does not occur in the future?