Summary of IRS Scandal

Have you been paying attention to the news about the IRS over the last month? Sometimes we hear different things from different sources and other bits of informations could be more so based on opinion than fact. It can be very hard to differentiate  between what is really going on and what falls into the grey area of opinion reporting. The news can be confusing, but now that some time has passed we can look at an overview of what has happened over the course of the last few weeks.

In May the IRS released information that showed that they had been targeting certain conservative groups starting back in March of 2010. This targeting consisted of required information of these targeted group that was, “overreaching and impossible to comply with,” says Rep. Bill Flores. The groups that were being targeted were applying for tax exempt status but were targeted based on their names and political stance. Organizations with “tea party”, “patriot”, and “9-12” in their names were targeted. Here is a timeline overview of the sequence of events surrounding the IRS scandal:

  • 27 June, 2011 – Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Operations, learns of targeting. She then initiates an audit of the office involved. Unfortunately the targeting continues.

  • 22 March, 2012 – IRS Director Douglas Shulman testifies before Congress, stating “There’s absolutely no targeting.”

  • 3 May, 2012 – Deputy Director Steven Miller is told about targeting and harassment.

  • 11 November, 2012 – Director Shulman steps down, Steven Miller steps in as acting director

  • 15 March, 2013 – New Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was informed of the IRS targeting.

  • 22 April, 2013 – Jay Carney claimed the White House Counsel learned of the targeting.

  • 9 May, 2013 – Lerner answers question at unrelated event, admitting IRS targeting. Although IRS later admits that the question was planted.

  • 10 May, 2013 – IRS releases preemptive apology in advance of imminent Inspector General report.

  • 13 May, 2013 – President Obama claims to have learned about the IRS targeting the previous Friday, “from news reports”.

  • 15 May, 2013 – Director Steven Miller is announced to be resigning in June, 2013.

  • 17 May, 2013 – The New York Times reports that the White House learned of the IRS targeting five months prior to the election.

  • 22 May, 2013 – Lois Lerner gives an opening statement in testimony before Congress, but pleads the fifth and refuses to answer questions.

  • 23 May, 2013 – Lois Lerner placed on administrative leave.

One good question to ask is, why did the IRS start targeting conservative groups in the first place?

It seems that there was a large increase in newly formed 503(c)4 organizations claiming tax exempt status in 2010. Even though this status is meant to be for organizations focused on education and social welfare, the IRS was concerned that many electioneering organizations were taking advantage of the tax exempt status and so the IRS foolishly attempted to come up with some sort of filter to try and flag groups that they thought that needed more scrutiny. So they decided to target organizations with the keywords “tea party”, “patriots”, “9/12”, and other “political sounding” names. This decision got them into the mess that has greatly damaged the reputation of what was supposed to be a trusted part of the United States.


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