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IRS investigative head: Progressive groups received less scrutiny than conservative

IRSThe U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said on Thursday that while the IRS did flag tax-exempt applications from groups labeled as “progressive,” they did not receive the same scrutiny as conservative-leaning organizations.

An initial IRS audit has come under fire for not providing a complete picture of the agency’s screening practices. While the audit mentioned Tea Party groups, it did not mention progressives as “potential political cases” flagged on Be On the Lookout lists, The Huffington Post reports.

In a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee, TIGTA Russell George said that while the initial report did not disclose that progressive groups were also targeted, tea party groups faced additional scrutiny because the IRS had no instructions as to how to handle progressive applications.

Karen Kraushaar, the communications director at TIGTA’s office, said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, specifically requested the agency to disclose whether it targeted Tea Party organizations in particular.

“We were specifically asked to look at three things,” Kraushaar said, according to The Huffington Post. “Number one was were these groups being singled out for review. Our report answered that in the affirmative. Number two was were they being asked inappropriate questions. We answered that in the affirmative. Number three, we were asked to find out if there was evidence that the Tea Party organization applications were delayed. And again, our audit finding was that they were being delayed.”

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the chairman of the committee, said “no taxpayer, regardless of political affiliation, should be unfairly targeted.”

“From what we have learned already, it is clear that the IRS is a broken agency that needs to answer to the American people,” Camp said. “It will be necessary to provide concrete reforms and assurances to begin rebuilding the trust this agency has lost with the American people…We need real reforms, and they must be implemented so the American people can have a restored faith that they have a government that works for them – not against them.  That begins with instituting long-term and meaningful changes, changes to both how the agency operates and to the tax code the agency is trying to enforce.”

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