501(c)(4) Scandal Focuses In on IRS's Political Bias

September 12, 2014 Posted by Jessica Shofler in Congressional ax, IRS, News, Nonprofits

Democrats and Republicans on a Senate investigative panel reviewing the so-called tea party scandal agree that the IRS used improper methods to scrutinize the exemption applications of social welfare organizations. But the agreement stops there.

The Democrat-led Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that there was “no evidence of IRS political bias” in the agency’s actions. In the Subcommittee’s report, a focal point was that the IRS targeted more than just conservative groups. The Subcommittee made clear that it is not happy with the audit released last year by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”) that only cited IRS buzzwords that garnered targeting related to right-leaning groups such as “Tea Party” and “Patriot.” The Subcommittee’s report stated that left-leaning groups were also targeted by the IRS, with buzzwords such as “Progressive” and “Occupy.”

The minority staff dissenting view in the Senate report maintains that the TIGTA report was “accurate and proper.” It notes that 83% of the targeted groups were right-leaning. The Subcommittees’ ranking minority member Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) argued: “The majority’s interpretation of the evidence fails to capture the extent of the IRS’s bias against conservative groups and flagrant abuse of power.” Unknown is the ratio of 501(c)(4) applications for right and left leaning groups.

Inspector General Russell George, head of TIGTA, said last Friday that TIGTA is reviewing the Senate report and that their audit is ongoing.

Tell us if your organization was targeted by the IRS. If so, what buzzwords do you think the IRS used to target it?

NOTE: The information contained herein is not intended to be legal advice and the reader should know that no Attorney-Client relationship or privilege is formed by the posting or reading of this article which is also not intended to solicit business.

Casey Summar, Partner, The Law Firm for Non-Profits,1812 W Burbank Blvd, #7445, Burbank, CA 91506

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