Two Excellent Summaries Of Recent IRS Developments

Looking for a quick overview of recent developments in the IRS Tea Party Scandal? Here are two links to help.

While playing catchup on the latest news about the IRS, I’ve come across two articles that serve as excellent summaries about recent developments. First is an article from the Atlantic Wire entitled The IRS Scandal Will Never, Ever Die which provides an excellent overview of the major developments in a quickly digestible format. The other one, Five Takeaways from IRS Scandal at Politico, delivers a fair overview of the five keys points of this scandal, all of which have remained largely unchanged since the initial release of the TIGTA report.

FILED UNDER: Media, Taxes, US Politics, , , , ,
Matt Bernius
About Matt Bernius
Matt Bernius is a design researcher working to create more equitable government systems and experiences. He's currently a Principal User Researcher on Code for America's "GetCalFresh" program, helping people apply for SNAP food benefits in California. Prior to joining CfA, he worked at Measures for Justice and at Effective, a UX agency. Matt has an MA from the University of Chicago.


  1. al-Ameda says:

    Basically, it won’t go away because conservative anger never recedes.

    I find that the impurity of this situation – (1) review of tax-exempt status with a primary focus on conservative groups, (2) the review being ordered by a Republican IRS official, not the White House, and (3) the House investigation run by Darrell Issa, who is open in his determination to bring the Obama Administration down by way of interminable investigations – is what makes this “scandal” interesting.

    Unfortunately it’s not as bad as Republicans hoped it would be, however it will serve to keep base Republicans and Tea Party people well-motivated going into the 2014 mid-terms.

  2. Sam Malone says:

    So much for impeaching Obama for this ginned-up scandal.
    I wonder if pundits like Peggy Noonan, with egg all over their faces, will do the honorable thing and finally resign?
    Will the IG resign for his role in these partisan shenanigans?
    Probably not.

  3. David in KC says:

    Overworked and slammed with a lot of applications that had names suggesting political activity. Did they screw up? Yes. Was it a political witch hunt? No. Will it go away any time soon. Nope.

  4. Gavrilo says:

    Let me try to put this in terms that the average liberal could understand. The Philadelphia Police Department has a stop and frisk policy. It would be wrong if the policy was to stop and frisk all african-american males between the ages of 18 and 30. Even if the Philly PD can point to statistics indicating that that demographic is more likely to engage in criminal activity than other demographics, it would still be wrong. Even if the police occasionally stop and frisk some white males or asian females, that policy would still be wrong. Even if the policy was instituted by a black police commissioner, and supported by a black district attorney and a black mayor, it would be wrong. Even if the policy wasn’t racially motivated, but was the result of an overworked and underfunded police department cutting corners, it would be wrong.

  5. Sam Malone says:

    @ Gavrilo…
    No one is saying that the IRS targeting Tea-Baggers isn’t wrong.
    But it’s not the Nixonian scandal that Republicans claimed…and/or attempted to manufacture.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    For a scandal to really catch on it requires:

    1) Cover-ups. Nope.
    2) Additional shoes to drop. Nope.
    3) Presidential involvement. Nope.

    Sorry, GOP, ain’t happening except inside the little fever dream you folks inhabit.

  7. Bob @ Youngstown says:


    And if a person walks into a Philly Police station and says to the desk sargent “I am a murderer” would it be wrong for the sargent to ask him any questions?

    If I apply for 501c4 status and declare that my organization’s name is Bob for Congress, and then assert (under penalty of pergury) that my organization does not now, nor plans to, engage in political campaign intervention, that the IRS should approve 501c4 status without question ?

    Part of the problem here is that people haven’t read the applications, or if they have read the application don’t understand the questions on the application.

    Your analogy is a fail.

  8. Matt Bernius says:

    The IRS case definitely involves profiling.

    However, there is one important difference to note between cases of police profiling and the BOLO list being applied to 501(c)(4) groups — when you are stopped by the police, you are fundamentally interrupted in your daily actions. Tea Party groups, and any other group flagged for specialist review, were not prevented from continuing to operate as 501(c)(4) groups during the review period.

    Now all that said, I still think the overall action was wrong — effective (as 81% of the Tea Party Case were identified as having review worthy indications of potential political activities) — but still wrong on its face.

    But the issue is whether this order was put in place to intentionally harm the Tea Party or out of a bureaucratic overreaction to problems fundamental to the 501(c)(4) form (and there is circumstantial evidence is that the same thing may have happened during an earlier period to groups with “Progressive” in their name).

    I’m of the bureaucratic screw up camp. Which should lead people, regardless of political persuasion, to ask why are legislators focusing on the scandal, rather than trying to get rid of the 501(c)(4) form all together (making everyone 527s). Of course, the answer to that is both party’s love for the anonymous donor portion of the 501(c)(4) form.

  9. anjin-san says:

    @ Gavrilo

    Let me see if I can put this into terms you will understand.

    1. Yes, the IRS engaged in some activity that was wrong.
    2. It was a fairly low level bureaucratic screwup.
    3. It’s wrong for Republicans to misrepresent what happened as a “scandal” that somehow involves Obama.
    4. It’s wrong for Republicans to exploit this for partisan political gain instead of simply trying to fix the problem

  10. becca says:

    All these little mom and pop GOP grifting rackets, er, non-profits, provide a tidy little income stream. TPers are easy marks, let’s face it.

    The shriller the outrage, the fatter the wallet.

  11. stonetools says:


    And let me respond in terms a conservative can understand .
    To take up your analogy, the proper solution would be to change the stop and frisk policy and dismiss those responsible for the policy.However, based on BENGHAZI! and IRS!, the GOP approach would be to claim without any evidence, that the dastardly stop and frisk policy is part of a gigantic conspiracy that’s being directed from the Oval Office , and to repeat such claims ad nauseam .
    Now conservatives are OK with the non-evidence-based approach, but we liberals prefer basing a search for solutions on evidence and reality. Crazy I know….

  12. MarkedMan says:

    The Bush appointed IG who started this scandal turns out to seriously mislead Congress and the public and used hyper-partisan language to boot. Now we are in the typical phase of Repub BS where there initial charges turn out to be, well, BS and they are frantically waving their hands and saying ‘well, OK, that might be BS but what about this other stuff?’ Problem is they have no credibility and it is a waste of time listening to them. They have proven over and over and over that anything that comes out of their mouths are just hashes of words, half-truths, lies and non-sequiturs designed for some rancid political purpose. There is virtually no one in Congress on the Republican side that has any thought for truth, justice or the good of the country.

  13. saint travon says:


    how is it that you people cant see that this will be used on you, and sooner rather than later.
    That they can do this and have you jackasses cheer them on is stunning. when all the “bad people” are delt with what do you think this big ole machine go? home content in a job well done? is that how
    it will work?

    you better hope so.

    your next

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Sam Malone:

    I wonder if pundits like Peggy Noonan, with egg all over their faces, will do the honorable thing and finally resign?

    Please don’t say things like that when I have a mouthful of coffee.

  15. al-Ameda says:

    @saint travon:

    how is it that you people cant see that this will be used on you, and sooner rather than later.

    Yes, I do assume that someday a Democratic (rather than Republican) IRS official might correctly decide to the review the 501(c)(3) or (c)(4) applications or status of liberal or progressive non-profit groups.

  16. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    According to the Treasury Inspector General’s report he reviewed all 298 applications that had been “targeted” by organization name. (whatever was on the BOLO list). re:page 8 of TIGA report 5/14/13)

    TIGA agreed that 206 (of these 298) applications indicated significant political campaign intervention. It apparently was up to the IRS to determine if that “significant” activity was more or less than 50% (even though 50% never appears anywhere in the regulations). So how does the IRS make that determination? Asking questions?

    After the 206 applications are being processed, that left 92 applications that had a name that suggested political activity, but the application either denied any intent to engage in political activity, consequently those 92 applications were further questioned (asked additional questions) re: TIGA report page 10.

    Of those 92 cases that were “subjected to additional scrutiny”, only 17 had used the words tea party, or patriot, or 9/12 in the organization name. (page 10)

    Obviously 75 applicants used some other name, but whatever name was used, it indicated some level of political activity.

    With the 100% and 30% story today, the picture is getting more muddied, than clear.

    100% of what group, the 298, the 206, the 92, the 75 or the 17.

  17. Matt Bernius says:

    @Bob @ Youngstown:
    Good summary.

    Pages 10-2 of the TIGTA Audit are extremely dense and, IMHO, poorly written. Or if you are a conspiracy theorist, intentionally constructed to hid certain bits of data.

  18. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Matt, we are agreement once again.
    I consciously avoid being sucked into conspiracy theories, but I am very suspicious of the construction of the IG’s original report as to the manner in which it’s trying to express facts.

    I would have expected a clearer exposition of the facts presented in a more professional style.

    The IG’s report covered the period of May 2010 thru May 2012. Footnote 19 states that there wer 4,510 501c4 applications filed during that period. Of that group, 298 applications were filtered off (by organizational name aka the BOLO list) as potential political cases.
    I think it is fair to say that this is the first level of “profiling” – as these applications were then subject to additional review.

    The IG goes on to state (Figure 4 on page 10) that 72 applications contained the name tea party, 11 applications contained the name 9/12, and 13 applications contained the name patriot, and 202 applications had some “other” politically sounding name. He does not provide any other means of understanding what those organizational names were, however it is clear that something in the name caused the screener to believe that the applicant organization was engaged in political intervention.

    It is clear (to me) that the IG was focused on tea party, patriot, and 9/12 specifically, otherwise he would have provided some name identifiers (or commonalities) for about 70% of the original 298.