New TIGTA Report Again Confirms No Political Motivation in IRS “Scandal”

Oct 5, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A report today released by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) validates information uncovered by Rep. Levin and Ways and Means Democrats in 2013 that there was no political motivation in the IRS’s processing of tax-exempt applications. Republicans completely politicized an investigation into this issue. They claimed a May 2013 TIGTA report, which it’s now shown was wholly incomplete, to supported their allegations that the IRS Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Division, then led by Lois Lerner, targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups for heightened scrutiny based solely on their political views. 

“In 2013, I asked Treasury Inspector General Russell George at a hearing ‘Did you find any evidence of political motivation in the selection of the tax exemption applications?’ he replied ‘We did not sir,’” said Rep. Levin. “This TIGTA report amplifies that point by clearly demonstrating that liberal groups were also subject to past scrutiny. This was a case, as I said in the beginning, of gross mismanagement at the IRS, not political targeting.  But that’s not the political narrative the Republicans wanted, so they selectively ignored important facts to skew their ‘investigation’.”

In 2013, Ways and Means Committee Democrats released information that the term “progressives” was included in the IRS “Be On the Look Out” (BOLO) lists used to screen tax-exempt applications. Republicans used the faulty May 2013 report to demonstrate the so-called BOLO included criteria singling out conservative organizations; this report confirms that, going back to 2004, a large number of liberal groups were also singled out – 61 containing the word “progressive” in their name, 6 containing the word “Emerge,” 5 “Occupy” and 14 “Acorn successors.” This is similar to conservative groups identified in TIGTA’s May 2013 report—72 containing “Tea Party” in their name, 11 containing “9/12,” and 13 containing “Patriots.”

As Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Levin led the investigation into the original audit by the Treasury Inspector General:

·         On June 24, Levin shared that the term “progressives” was included on the BOLO list.

·         On July 12, 2013, Levin shared documents that underscored the flaws in the audit.

·         On July 17, 2013, Levin shared that liberal groups were denied tax-exempt status

·         On July 30, 2013, Levin again noted missing information in the original audit.

The Department of Justice last month denied a request by Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee to re-open a criminal investigation against Lois Lerner.