IRS Employee to Congress: We're Still Subjecting Tea Party Groups to Heightened Scrutiny

August 12, 2013 - 5:09 PM

IRS screeners continue to flag certain applications for exempt status for secondary scrutiny on the basis of name alone regardless of whether there is any evidence of political activity, an IRS employee has told a House Ways and Means Committee investigation.

A transcript of the interview with a Cincinnati-based IRS employee was released today by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany Jr., M.D. (R-LA) in a letter calling on IRS Acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel to immediately cease the IRS's apparent continued practice of targeting Tea Party applications based on name alone:

Q: "If you saw - I am asking this currently, if today a Tea Party case, a group - a case from a Tea Party group came in to your desk, you received the file and there was no evidence of political activity, would you potentially approve that case? Is that something you would do?"

A:" At this point I would sent it to secondary screening, political advocacy."

Q: "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?"

A: "Based on my current manager's direction, uh-huh."

The lawmakers' letter calls on the IRS to provide notice to its employees that any such targeting will be subject to discipline and referral to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for investigation:

"We write to you to demand that you immediately issue instructions to all IRS employees that applications for exempt status shall not be subjected to higher scrutiny based on organization name or substantive beliefs and provide notice that any such targeting will be subject to discipline and referral to TIGTA for investigation."

The news of continued targeting comes after President Obama installed new IRS leadership and pledged that the IRS would "put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again."