Self-described conservative and Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status were asked more questions by the Internal Revenue Service and had longer delays than progressive organizations, according to an analysis by the House Ways and Means Committee.
Conservative groups received three times as many questions and 56 of their applications were pending as of May 31, while no groups with progressive in their name had a pending application, said the analysis released today by the Republican-led panel.
The committee can examine and summarize otherwise private information from the IRS that others can’t.
The analysis looked only at the pool of files flagged for potentially impermissible political involvement that the IRS inspector general examined. It didn’t include other groups that might have been flagged for other reasons or at other times.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, said in a statement. “Congress will continue to investigate how the targeting began, why it was allowed to continue for so long, and what the IRS is doing to resolve this. Americans deserve to know the full truth.”
The study is part of Republicans’ attempts to show that the inclusion of “progressives” and “Occupy” groups on IRS watch lists didn’t amount to the same level of scrutiny that Tea Party groups received from the IRS starting in 2010.
The IRS apologized in May for singling out Tea Party groups’ applications because of their names. That disclosure has led to six separate congressional inquiries, cost at least four IRS officials their jobs, and prompted a criminal probe.
Democrats have said recent revelations about IRS scrutiny of progressive groups cast doubt on the idea that Republican- leaning groups were the only ones who received extra attention from the agency.
IRS officials haven’t explained how and why those watch lists were created and used, and today’s analysis doesn’t shed light on that question.
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