Was the IRS Scandal Overblown?

New evidence shows the tax agency targeted liberals too.

Lois Lerner, who headed the tax exempt organization program, had been previously reported to be on administrative leave.
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In an effort to quell charges of political targeting of conservative groups, the Internal Revenue Service released fifteen redacted versions of their so-called "Be On the Look Out," or BOLO, lists. These new documents suggest that liberal leaning groups were flagged by the tax collection agency as well.

According to a report by Bloomberg News, although terms like "progressive," "occupy," and "Israel" were included, the context of each application varied:

The IRS is charged with enforcing tax law, which forbids political activity for 501(c)(3) charities that can receive tax-deductible contributions and limits campaign involvement for 501(c)4 social welfare groups that don't have to disclose their donors

The term "progressive" appeared on a November 2010 document released by House Ways and Means Committee Democrats. It appears to refer to applications for 501(c)(3) status, not the 501(c)(4) status sought by many Tea Party groups.

Although progressive sounding groups were tagged under existing labels, the conservative groups were listed under "emerging issues."  True the Vote claims to have waited over three years for tax-exempt status, which included "answering hundred of questions and producing thousands of documents." Ameninu, a group self-described as "progressive Jews," waited five years for its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

[ See a collection of editorial cartoons on the IRS Scandal.]

Defensive behavior of top IRS personnel suggest the issue may still be worth investigating. When Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax exempt division, first heard about the allegations in June 2011, she instructed the offenders to stop "immediately." Appearing before Congress on May 22, she admitted to and apologized for the extra scrutiny before invoking her Fifth Amendment right. She has since refused to step down, despite a request from current IRS commissioner Daniel Werfel, and has been placed on administrative leave.

Former IRS commissioner, Steven Miller, admitted mistakes were made out of expediency in a statement with USA Today. The following day, House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and committee ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich., sent Miller a list of thirteen questions on the matter. The two wrote that despite repeated attempts for cooperation:

The agency failed to be completely truthful in its responses to the Committee during its nearly two-year long investigation of this matter, and in testimony before the Committee.

What do you think? Does new IRS evidence mean the scandal was overblown? Take the poll and comment below.

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