Watchdog: IRS fought oversight in tea party cases

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By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Taxpayer Advocate says the Internal Revenue Service has long resisted efforts by her office to help groups seeking tax-exempt status.

Nina Olson, who runs the independent office within the IRS, says that created a culture that enabled agents to improperly target groups for additional scrutiny.

She says that culture continues, even amid the current IRS scandal.

Olson says in her annual report to Congress that it was in 2007 when her office first approached the IRS about a backlog of applications for tax-exempt status.

Olson has the authority to intervene in cases in which IRS actions are causing a "significant hardship" for taxpayers.

The report says the IRS' Exempt Organizations division resisted Olson's efforts and said Olson had no authority in such cases.

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