Investigation into IRS handling of tax exempt applications continues

U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressional investigations continue into the actions of the Internal Revenue Service and its targeting of groups applying for tax-exempt status between May 2010 and May 2012 based upon keywords in the groups’ names.

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, whose 4th district includes Mecosta County, has held several hearings since April, when the IRS’ actions were uncovered by the White House Counsel, in an attempt to find more information.

“So far, the evidence only shows conservatives being systematically targeted by the IRS, not just flagged through the BOLO (be on the lookout), but actually targeted,” Camp said in a statement following the release of documents indicating that the IRS also selected applications with progressive-sounding names for further review.

Fellow Michigan congressman Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, the Ways and Means Committee’s ranking Democrat, along with other members of his party, have pointed to documents that show some groups that advocated liberal or neutral policies were also flagged.

“This new information underscores the fact that the Treasury Inspector General’s audit was fundamentally flawed and created widespread misperceptions that Republicans seized on in an effort to attack the White House,” Levin said in a statement of his own last Friday.

Republicans have pointed out that the majority of cases flagged for additional review, including all applications from groups with “TEA Party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their names, came from organizations with conservative membership, meaning that conservative groups were discriminated against more than others.

U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak

While Camp’s office is unable to confirm whether any local conservative groups have contacted them regarding possible targeting due to constituent confidentiality rules, some groups, including the Ottawa County TEA Party, have made public their difficulties while applying for tax-exempt status.

While the next Ways and Means hearing on the matter has not yet been scheduled, Democrats are calling upon Camp to bring Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George back for further questioning after his office noted that they had only been asked to investigate why conservative groups had been targeted.

However, George has since stated that while some progressive groups had been flagged for additional scrutiny, it did not match the frequency with which conservative groups were flagged.

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