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Wed May 15, 2013, 11:11 PM

The IRS Tea Party Scandal, Explained--Mother Jones

If like me you haven't had time to keep up with the details of IRS scandal, Mother Jones provides an overview.

On Friday, May 10, a top official with the Internal Revenue Service dropped a bombshell. IRS staffers had singled out conservative organizations with "tea party" or "patriots" in their name that were seeking tax-exempt nonprofit status, subjecting them to extra scrutiny to see if they were abusing the tax law as it relates to political activity. They grilled these conservative groups about their members, their donors, their public statements, and who they employed. And there is no evidence yet that the IRS systemically treated non-conservative groups with the same level of attention.

Speaking to a group of tax lawyers, the IRS official, Lois Lerner, who oversees the agency's exempt organizations division, publicly apologized for the IRS's actions. Ever since, Democratic and Republican politicians have been falling over themselves to condemn the IRS. President Obama said that, if the allegations are true, "there's no place" for such behavior. Members of Congress have pledged to investigate any potential wrongdoing and grill the agency's leaders. "Heads need to roll" if the IRS unfairly targeted tea partiers and other conservatives, said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

Here's a primer on what you need to know about the IRS scandal.

How did this get started? It began back in March 2010, when the tea party movement was all the rage. According to a leaked timeline (PDF) from a draft report by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, IRS staffers began flagging applications from groups with politically themed names like "We the People" and "Take Back the Country." Staffers also targeted groups whose names included the words "tea party" and "patriots." Those flagged applications were then sent to specialists for a more rigorous review than is typical.

The IRS gave extra scrutiny to 298 groups applying for tax-exempt status, the Washington Post reported. Seventy-two of those groups had "tea party" in their title, 13 had "patriots," and 11 had "9/12," shorthand for the 9/12 movement started by conservative TV host Glenn Beck.

But IRS officials not only singled out tea party and liberty groups. They also looked for "political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform/movement," according to the leaked timeline. This included groups that planned to focus on government debt and spending, taxes, or those trying to "make America a better place to live." In June 2011, Lerner reportedly became aware of what was going on and directed staffers to change to how they vetted nonprofit applications.

More at: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/05/irs-tea-party-scandal-congress-nonprofit-obama

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Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply The IRS Tea Party Scandal, Explained--Mother Jones (Original post)
BainsBane May 2013 OP
niyad May 2013 #1
BainsBane May 2013 #2
rdharma May 2013 #3
BainsBane May 2013 #4
rdharma May 2013 #15
BainsBane May 2013 #17
rdharma May 2013 #20
Nye Bevan May 2013 #22
rdharma May 2013 #23
Cha May 2013 #5
Cha May 2013 #6
BainsBane May 2013 #9
Cha May 2013 #10
BainsBane May 2013 #12
rdharma May 2013 #16
BainsBane May 2013 #18
rdharma May 2013 #19
BainsBane May 2013 #21
hfojvt May 2013 #7
sofa king May 2013 #8
hfojvt May 2013 #11
BainsBane May 2013 #13
hfojvt May 2013 #14

Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Wed May 15, 2013, 11:19 PM

1. my question for the teahadists is "where is their outrage when this is directed against progressives

liberals, pro-peace groups, etc? don't recall hearing them screaming during the bushco years.

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Response to niyad (Reply #1)

Wed May 15, 2013, 11:26 PM

2. Silent, of course

but likewise many Democrats are reacting very differently than if the IRS had targeted liberal groups under a Republican administration. I understand that most of the new groups probably were Tea Party types, but the IRS should select randomly or according to some non-political criteria.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Wed May 15, 2013, 11:33 PM

3. Here's what really happened!

 

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Response to rdharma (Reply #3)

Wed May 15, 2013, 11:57 PM

4. I don't understand this

Can you explain it?

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #4)

Thu May 16, 2013, 06:48 PM

15. Sure!

 

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Response to rdharma (Reply #15)

Thu May 16, 2013, 06:59 PM

17. I meant the thing about the guns

as a way of the IRS distracting tea baggers for a rectal exam.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #17)

Thu May 16, 2013, 07:49 PM

20. Because they're easily distracted and NEED a thorough examination. eom

 

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Response to rdharma (Reply #15)

Thu May 16, 2013, 09:37 PM

22. Are there any real photos of Tea Party rallies with "We Won't Pay" signs?

Campaigning for lower taxes is perfectly legal, and we have all seen the "Taxed Enough Already" signs. But signs like "We Won't Pay" suggesting that they are contemplating breaking the law would be quite another thing. I wonder if this is for real, or a figment of the cartoonist's imagination.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #22)

Thu May 16, 2013, 10:41 PM

23. Well, it has more to do with Tea Baggers trying to claim 401 c exemption status.

 

Do you think they should qualify?

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Thu May 16, 2013, 12:04 AM

5. thanks Bains.. kicking to read later.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Thu May 16, 2013, 12:41 AM

6. Very Informative but I still don't get what they

did wrong.

But Steven Miller got fired.

UPDATE, Wednesday, May 15: On Wednesday evening, President Obama announced that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew accepted the resignation of Internal Revenue Service acting commissioner Steven Miller after Lew requested that he step down.


thanks again Bains

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Response to Cha (Reply #6)

Thu May 16, 2013, 01:10 AM

9. They searched according to words

indicating right wing affiliation. They therefore targeted tea party groups rather than acting from a non-partisan standpoint.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #9)

Thu May 16, 2013, 01:17 AM

10. Thanks.. bad IRS.. even though the tea parties were screaming to

be noticed by their name.

I know.. bad of me, too.

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Response to Cha (Reply #10)

Thu May 16, 2013, 01:27 AM

12. Sure, as much as we'd all like to see the Tea Party suffer

I think how I would feel if these were liberal groups being investigated under a Republican administration. The IRS really needs to act as a rational and impartial bureaucracy if it is to function properly. The other problem with this scandal is it is going to make it more difficult to cut off tax exemptions for those political groups like Rove's Crossroads GPS that pose as non-profits.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #12)

Thu May 16, 2013, 06:54 PM

16. YOu don't remember when the IRS was looking into the NAACP's tax exempt status?

 

During the Bush administration in 2004?

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Response to rdharma (Reply #16)

Thu May 16, 2013, 07:04 PM

18. Yes

but that doesn't make this right. The IRS's using political criteria is wrong regardless. Also it makes it more difficult to challenge the swarm of political groups claiming tax exemption.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #18)

Thu May 16, 2013, 07:47 PM

19. DO you think Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity should have 501(c)(4) status?

 

And not have to disclose their donors to the public?

You don't feel that the IRS should look into their operations?

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Response to rdharma (Reply #19)

Thu May 16, 2013, 09:29 PM

21. Yes, they should be investigated,

but it should apply to all political groups like that, not just right wing ones.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Thu May 16, 2013, 12:49 AM

7. one thing I think is curious

is why did all these people suddenly decide "hey, I am gonna start a 501c4 so I can save this country".

Is that where I have gone wrong? I should have started a 501c4 called, let's say "End Austerity and Reaganomics Now" or EARN, for short. And having done that, the money would start flowing in from rich liberals like George Soros and Bill Gates Sr. and Bill Maher. And I could make a nice $40,000 a year salary off of my non-profit and just spend my days writing fund-raising letters and emailing screeds against the Bush tax cuts (which I have been writing anyway, to an audience of about 4 on DU).

I bet it is hard to get rich donors though when your raison d'etre is to raise their taxes.

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #7)

Thu May 16, 2013, 12:57 AM

8. I like your screeds!

Now if only I had a shitload of money.

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Response to sofa king (Reply #8)

Thu May 16, 2013, 01:20 AM

11. dad, what are you doing up so late?

All I really need is a mere $100 from each of my 1,000 facebook friends.

Okay, first I need another 895 facebook friends.

Details, details, details.

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #7)

Thu May 16, 2013, 01:06 PM

13. Add a 0 to that 40K

and you still won't get close to what Rove took from Crossroads for himself.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #13)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:10 PM

14. well yeah, but he has a big business

these other groups might not be rolling in that kind of dough.

But on the other hand, does anybody know what Jim Dean and Russ Feingold make from THEIR organizations?

I mean, as a former monthly donor to DFA, I never bothered to ask. Now I wonder. And many people would not consider an $80,000 a year salary to be a big deal.

But it was only about $10 a month. And other times I donated directly to candidates like to Ed Fallon against DINO Leonard Boswell (a loss) and to Sherrod Brown (a win). But that may have gone through DFA as well and they may have taken a cut.

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