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IRS Apologizes to Tea Party Groups
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On Friday, the IRS apologized to Tea Party groups and other groups considered as conservative for singling them out for overzealous audits of their applications for tax-exemption. The director of the Internal Revenue Service, Lois Lerner, admitted that in an attempt to manage the number of applications made for tax-exempt status between 2010 and 2012 the agency had targeted applicants with terms like “Tea Party” or “patriots” in their titles.

However, Lerner said that such actions were not driven by any political agenda. She said to reporters on a conference call, “We made some mistakes; some people didn’t use good judgment … For that we’re apologetic.”

She said that the targeting was purely bureaucratic mistakes done to deal with the rise in groups seeking tax-exempt status. According to the IRS, applications for tax-exempt status nearly doubled between 2010 and 2012. Singling out applications with terms like “Tea Party,” and “patriots” was made by staff members as a “shortcut” without any political motive.

  
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Lerner said that only 25 percent of the flagged applications were Tea Party related, but admitted that singling out of the groups was “absolutely inappropriate and not the way should do things.”

Stating that low-level employees were responsible for the goof up, and that no disciplinary action has been taken against those responsible, she said that policy changes had been made to ensure that such happenings did not occur again in the future.

Any effort to similarly lump applications by lower-level staff would now require approval by high-level officers in the IRS.

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The acknowledgement made by the IRS confirmed accusations Tea Party groups made in 2012, claiming that the IRS was harassing them and demanding that they fill out overly complex and intrusive questionnaires, before processing their applications for tax-exemption.

The American Center for Law and Justice termed the apology by the IRS as “a significant victory for free speech.”





 

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