Over the past week it was revealed that they targeted conservative “tea party” groups that were filing for tax-exempt status by applying heavier scrutiny to applicants with conservative, pro-American, and pro-Constitution sounding names.
During that increased scrutiny of conservative groups, the IRS asked these groups to provide the names of donors and strangely, Facebook posts.
The issue has left many wondering whether the IRS, who’s employees gave a significantly higher percentage to President Obama in the past two elections, has been targeting individual filers because of their political leanings.
The House Committee on Ways and Means has released questions they plan to ask the IRS in the Friday, May 17th hearing. One of those is, “What steps, if any, has the IRS taken to ensure that the targeting of individuals and organizations does not occur in the future?”
Individuals have come forward claiming that they believe they were targeted because of their conservative beliefs. One of those is Frank VanderSloot, one of Romney’s biggest supporters. VanderSloot was listed on President Obama’s infamous “enemies list” and says he was audited shortly after making the list.
Ironically, the IRS’s mission states that they are to “enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all.” The U.S. tax system is built on trust (in both directions) and Americans depend on the IRS to act responsibly. This issue naturally will lead to more distrust in one of the Government’s most powerful organizations, not just for how they treat non-profits, but how they treat individuals.
Since the scandal broke, the President, who unfortunately joked about auditing his enemies in the past, has fired the already resigned head of the IRS and distanced from the IRS stating, “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives.”
However, the Administration has participated in a culture that mocked these tea party groups. The President made his statement about “folks waving tea bags around” back in 2009. Vice President Biden called the Tea Party “terrorists” during the 2011 debt ceiling debates. The President also recently warned graduates to ignore those “voices” warning of tyranny during a 2013 recent commencement speech.
The House Committee on Ways and Means will begin a full investigation into this issue on Friday, May 17th. The Senate Finance Committee is also planning a hearing.