Justice Dept. investigating IRS - FOX 13 News

IRS chief ousted

Posted: Updated:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation of the Internal Revenue Service just as another probe concludes that lax management enabled agents to improperly target tea party groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax exempt status.

Attorney General Eric Holder said he ordered the FBI to investigate Friday -- the day the IRS publicly acknowledged that it had singled out conservative groups.

"Those (actions) were, I think, as everyone can agree, if not criminal, they were certainly outrageous and unacceptable," Holder said. "But we are examining the facts to see if there were criminal violations."

Holder is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee.

Three congressional committees already are investigating the IRS for singling out tea party and other conservative groups during the 2010 congressional elections and the 2012 presidential election. But Holder's announcement would take the matter to another level if investigators are able to prove that laws were broken.

Ineffective management at the IRS allowed agents to improperly target tea party groups for more than 18 months, said a report released Tuesday by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. The report lays much of the blame on IRS supervisors in Washington who oversaw a group of specialists in Cincinnati who screened applications for tax exempt status.

It does not indicate that Washington initiated the targeting of conservative groups. But it does say a top supervisor in Washington did not adequately supervise agents in the field even after she learned the agents were acting improperly.

"The report's findings are intolerable and inexcusable," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "The federal government must conduct itself in a way that's worthy of the public's trust, and that's especially true for the IRS. The IRS must apply the law in a fair and impartial way, and its employees must act with utmost integrity. This report shows that some of its employees failed that test."

The agency started targeting groups with "Tea Party," `'Patriots" or "9/12 Project" in their applications for tax exempt status in March 2010, the inspector general's report said. By August 2010, it was part of the written criteria used to flag groups for additional scrutiny.

Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax exempt organizations, had been briefed on the matter in June 2011. She ordered the initial tea party criteria to be scrapped, but it later evolved to include groups that promoted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The practice was ended in May 2012, the report said.

IRS agents were trying to determine whether the political activities of such groups disqualified them for tax exempt status. These groups were claiming tax exempt status as organizations promoting social welfare. Unlike other charitable groups, they can engage in political activity. But politics cannot be their primary mission.

It is up to the IRS to make the determination.

But by using improper criteria, the IRS targeted some groups, even though there were no indications that they engaged in significant political activities, the report said. Other non-tea party groups that had significant political activities were not screened, the report said.

"The criteria developed by the Determinations Unit gives the appearance that the IRS is not impartial in conducting its mission," the report said.

The additional screening resulted in long delays as IRS agents asked intrusive, sometimes inappropriate questions, or merely let applications languish, the report said. Inappropriate questions included requests for lists of donors and the political affiliation of officers.

"Unfortunately, the report raises more questions than it answers," said House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. "What we do know for sure is that the IRS personnel responsible for granting tax exemptions systematically targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny, and that officials in Washington, D.C., were aware of this practice, even while publicly claiming that it never happened."

The IRS on Friday apologized for singling out tea party and other conservative groups.

On Tuesday, the agency said, "After seeing issues with particular cases, inappropriate shortcuts were used to determine which cases may be engaging in political activities. It is important to note that the vast majority of these cases would still have been centralized based on the general criteria used for other cases."

Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller is scheduled to testify before the House Ways and Means Committee at a hearing Friday. Miller became acting commissioner in November, after Commissioner Douglas Shulman completed his five-year term. Shulman had been appointed by President George W. Bush.

------

Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephenatap

  • Your MoneyMore>>

  • Do mosquito-repellent apps really work?

    Do mosquito-repellent apps really work?

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 11:01 PM EDT2014-07-24 03:01:26 GMT
    What would you do if there was an app that repelled mosquitoes? Well, there are 2 free apps that claim they repel mosquitoes. The Android app from Prothoughts releases high-frequency sound that mosquitoes reportedly don't like. And you can select several frequencies up to 22 kilohertz.The iPhone app from Pico Brothers also claims to drive away mosquitoes. But this one says it cannot guarantee 100 percent success. We went to an expert to see if these types of apps really work.
    What would you do if there was an app that repelled mosquitoes? Well, there are 2 free apps that claim they repel mosquitoes. The Android app from Prothoughts releases high-frequency sound that mosquitoes reportedly don't like. And you can select several frequencies up to 22 kilohertz.The iPhone app from Pico Brothers also claims to drive away mosquitoes. But this one says it cannot guarantee 100 percent success. We went to an expert to see if these types of apps really work.
  • Latest wedding trends and tips

    Latest wedding trends and tips

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 10:35 PM EDT2014-07-24 02:35:07 GMT
    Summer is wedding season. Christal Young reports on some recent wedding trends. Kellee Khalil, the founder of a wedding search engine Lover.ly, gives her take on the trends and also shares some tips.
    Summer is wedding season. Christal Young reports on some recent wedding trends. Kellee Khalil, the founder of a wedding search engine Lover.ly, gives her take on the trends and also shares some tips.
  • The future of technology

    The future of technology

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 7:01 PM EDT2014-07-23 23:01:39 GMT
    For New Yorkers fed up with the nightmare otherwise known as traffic, a futuristic answer may be closer than you think: driverless cars.Gray Scott is a futurist with seriouswonder.com. He and his colleagues track the future of technology. He says driverless cars will be a reality.After launching Google Glass just months ago, Google is about to take vision innovation a step further.
    For New Yorkers fed up with the nightmare otherwise known as traffic, a futuristic answer may be closer than you think: driverless cars.Gray Scott is a futurist with seriouswonder.com. He and his colleagues track the future of technology. He says driverless cars will be a reality.After launching Google Glass just months ago, Google is about to take vision innovation a step further.
Powered by WorldNow

FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
3213 West Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, Florida 33609
Main: (813) 876-1313
Newsroom: (813) 870-9630
Fax: (813) 871-3135

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices