IRS releases list of 426 groups targeted for increased scrutiny

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released a lengthy list of organizations it snagged for review three years after it became embroiled in a controversy over targeting tax-exempt conservative groups for increased scrutiny.

The IRS filed the list of 426 groups last month as part of a class action lawsuit. The names of another 40 to 45 groups that met the agency’s criteria for extra scrutiny and delays were not released since they opted out of inclusion in the lawsuit.

{mosads}Sixty of the groups have the word “tea” in their name, 33 have “patriot” and 26 refer to “liberty,” while others appear to trend liberal, with three having “occupy” in their name, according to The Washington Times, which first reported the list.

Edward Greim, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, told The Hill on Monday that the groups pursuing the lawsuit haven’t had a chance yet to scrutinize the process that the IRS used to generate it. However, “they seem to have caught everybody,” and if anything the criteria were overly broad, he added.

The IRS inspector general report previously said it had reviewed 298 cases as of May 2012.

A government watchdog in April 2015 said the IRS had made “significant” progress handling issues that led to improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status. The inspector general said the IRS was no longer targeting groups.

NorCal Tea Party Patriots filed the lawsuit against the IRS and some of its officials in 2013, shortly after an earlier inspector general report revealing the targeting was released. The group asserted claims under the First and Fifth amendments of the Constitution and the Privacy Act.

As part of the discovery process, NorCal had sought IRS lists of groups seeking tax-exempt status that were allegedly subjected to delays and requests for unnecessary information due to their political beliefs. NorCal also requested spreadsheets that the IRS had given to the inspector general for its report.

The group had asked for this information so it could identify other members of the class.

The IRS fought the request to produce the documents, arguing the names and other information about the groups were confidential “return information.” But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in March that the IRS had to produce the lists.
Afterward, the IRS sent NorCal a large number of documents from the period when the alleged targeting was taking place. Based on these documents, it appears that liberal groups’ names were added to the lists at later points during the period. One hypothesis the plaintiffs have is that the IRS added the liberal groups “to try to muddy the waters” once the agency realized it was being investigated, Greim said.
The plaintiffs are still awaiting some documents from the IRS about its process and the way the agency may have handled specific groups. They also plan to take more depositions from current and former IRS officials, Greim said.
As of now, a trial is likely to be held in summer 2017, Greim said.
— Updated at 4:01 p.m.
Tags IRS IRS Tea party
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