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The IRS and the Tea Party

hBoth liberals and conservatives expressed outrage after the IRS revealed that it had targeted Tea Party groups who were seeking legal tax exemptions.

President Barack Obama stated that he would not tolerate politically motivated attacks by the agency, calling the actions by the IRS outrageous.

Representative Mike Rogers, R-Mich, chimed in that the IRS actions should “send a chill up your spine.”

Even the left-wing magazine Mother Jones piled on and said that “conservatives are right to be outraged and right to demand a full investigation.”

Apparently, the Cincinnati IRS office had been buried in requests for tax-exempt status under 501 (c) (4) between the years 2010 and 2012, according to an article in the New York Times. The applications doubled to 2,400. About 300 of these applications were set aside for greater scrutiny if they had the words “tea party” or “patriot” in the application.

The IRS also singled out groups that planned to educate citizens on their U.S. constitutional rights or were critical of the federal government, according to a story in the Washington Post.

The IRS official who is responsible for decisions on non-profits, Lois Lerner, blamed the scandal on a bureaucratic snafu. Steps have been taken to ensure that it doesn’t reoccur, she added.

The apology that Lerner issued probably won’t be enough to stop Congress from holding hearings.

Senator John McCain, R-Ariz, said that a Senate panel will investigate the treatment of conservative groups by the IRS. The U.S. House is also considering a special committee to investigate the scandal.

Former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman testified before Congress last year that the IRS wasn’t targeting political groups. However, newly released documents indicate that the current IRS chief knew that the agency was scrutinizing Tea Party groups back in May 2012.

Both the Congress and the White House will need to get a handle on this scandal in order to reassure taxpayers that they won’t be targeted by a politically motivated IRS.