The IRS recently released a list of right-wing political groups it admitted to targeting between 2010 and 2012.
Some 426 politically conservative organizations were the subject of additional tax oversight while applying for tax exempt status during that two-year time period. The IRS targeted the groups through their names, which included words such as “tea,” “liberty,” “Constitution” and “patriots.”
By contrast, only a handful of Democratic organizations were subject to scrutiny. According to reports, just 12 with the word “occupy” or “progress” in their title caught the attention of the IRS. Another 40 groups, thought to be liberal in nature, also were targeted but not named.
The release of the names of the 426 groups caught many observers off guard because an initial Treasury Department investigation revealed that only 298 groups were targeted. The IRS finally revealed the list after a federal judge forced its release as part of a class-action lawsuit brought by several Tea Party groups.
‘’Among the most serious allegations a federal court can address are that an Executive agency has targeted citizens for mistreatment based on their political views” said Circuit Court Judge Raymond Kethledge in his March ruling. ‘No citizen—Republican or Democrat, socialist or libertarian—should be targeted or even have to fear being targeted on those grounds.’’
The use of IRS audits and delayed tax exempt applications first made headlines in 2013. Lois Lerner, who had been the director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the IRS, immediately resigned after the scandal was reported. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was brought in by Congress to clean up the organization, but members of Congress have said Koskinen has done little to improve the organization and have recently called for his resignation.
Conservative group Tea Party Patriots, which itself was put in the IRS crosshairs, has started an online petition calling for the impeachment of Koskinen.
“The IRS has once again admitted to targeting Americans for their political views, including Tea Party Patriots and over 70 groups that include the word ‘tea’ in their name,” said a Tea Party Patriots representative in a media statement. “Under President Obama, the IRS has attacked the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans and it is well beyond time that someone is held accountable. This latest development is another reason the House of Representatives should vote to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for misconduct, including betraying the public trust by disregarding Congressional subpoenas and lying to Congress.”
What will be done about the IRS’ alleged misconduct is yet to be seen. The class-action suit filed by the Tea Party groups could be years away from a conclusion. According to reports, attorneys for the plaintiffs are currently attempting to nail down a timeline of when specific groups were targeted.
Have you or your group been the subject of an IRS audit? Don’t try to navigate the process without an attorney. Contact Chicago tax lawyer Patrick T. Sheehan & Associates today.