Levin: New IRS Information Underscores Fundamental Flaws in IG Audit

Jul 12, 2013

New documents from the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration disclosed today by Oversight and Government Reform Committee Democrats further underscore the fundamental flaws within Treasury Inspector General George’s audit of the IRS’ processing of tax exemption applications. The TIGTA audit’s May 14, 2013 release – that omitted vital information released today and on June 24, 2013, through the release of “Be On the Look Out” lists that included the word “progressive” – kicked off a firestorm of totally unsubstantiated attacks from Republicans. Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today made the following statement regarding the new documents:

“This new information underscores the fact that the Treasury Inspector General’s audit was fundamentally flawed and created widespread misperceptions that Republicans seized on in an effort to attack the White House. It is now all the more important that Inspector General George return to Congress to explain his glaring omissions and reasons for releasing a highly misleading report. Contrary to what the Inspector General asserted in his audit and during subsequent testimony, TIGTA investigations conducted a review of whether the screening of tax-exemption applications was politically motivated and concluded – after having scrutinized 5,500 emails – that it was not. The fact that this information was not included in the final audit, nor disclosed in subsequent testimony, further highlights that the audit was fundamentally flawed. What’s more, it is now clear that screeners were instructed, in a 2010 PowerPoint presentation using images of a donkey and an elephant, to look for the term ‘progressive’ alongside ‘tea party’ in reviewing tax-exemption applications. This directly contradicts the Inspector General's statement on June 26, 2013 that ‘we did not find any evidence that the criteria you identified labeled ‘Progressives’ were used by the IRS to select potential political cases during the 2010 to 2012 timeframe we audited.’

“No one is excusing the Internal Revenue Service’s gross mismanagement of the tax-exemption application process.  Indeed, as soon as this mismanagement surfaced, I urged that Mr. Miller and Ms. Lerner be relieved of their duties. In order to fix the problems with the tax-exemption application process it is critical that Members of both parties acknowledge that there was no political motivation and that applications across the political spectrum were screened using key words.

“Two weeks ago, Ways and Means Committee Democrats requested that Chairman Camp ask the Inspector General to return to the Committee to testify. We have yet to receive an answer. It is critical that the IG appear before Congress.”


Email from TIGTA Head of Investigations noting the review of 5,500 emails and concluding: “There was no indication that pulling these selected applications was politically motivated.”

PowerPoint presentation dated July 28, 2010 instructing screeners how to screen applications.

Meeting minutes from July 28, 2010 presentation.