Report: IRS Reveals Groups Targeted in Political Probe

According to a Washington Times report, as part of a court case, the IRS last month revealed the names of most of the 501(c)(4) organizations—the majority of which are conservative—that the agency had targeted for political reasons. It's the latest turn in a long-running case that put the spotlight on the tax agency.

More details have come out in the long-running scandal in which the Internal Revenue Service gave political nonprofits higher levels of scrutiny over their tax-exempt status.

As a result of a class-action lawsuit against the IRS, last month the agency released a list of 426 groups that were treated differently based on their names, according to a report by The Washington Times.

That doesn’t account for all of the targeted 501(c)(4) organizations, as roughly 40 declined to take part in the class action, partly because some chose to file individual lawsuits. But the list is comprehensive, according to the Times report.

The Hill notes that the number of specified groups is well above the 298 cases reviewed by the IRS as of 2012.

So what kinds of organizations are on the list? The Times says that while some groups have liberal-leaning names that include terms such as “occupy,” the vast majority are related to conservative movements such as the Tea Party. The list contains 60 groups with “tea” in their name, 33 with “patriot,” 13 with “912,” eight with references to “constitution,” and 26 with “liberty”—though in the last case, some of those organizations aren’t conservative.

In some instances, nonpartisan nonprofits, such as chapters of the League of Women Voters, were targeted by the IRS.

The lawsuit, brought in 2013 by the NorCal Tea Party Patriots and later joined by a wide variety of organizations, led to significant changes in how the IRS handles applications by 501(c)(4) organizations, which are traditionally organized to support social welfare and do not outwardly support political candidates. Those changes have received mixed reviews.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is representing some of the nonprofits in court, welcomed the latest revelation.

“One thing remains clear: Continued litigation is the only way to force the IRS’ hand in order to expose its targeting scheme that was coordinated with the help of the DOJ and other federal agencies so that we can obtain justice for those patriotic Americans who were unconstitutionally targeted by their own government,” Jay Sekulow, chief counsel at ACLJ, told the Times.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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