Documents show IRS looking at “anti-Republican” groups

As the IRS released an 83 page internal review of the political targeting of Tea Party groups, Democrats in Congress leaked out documents which appeared to show the IRS keeping tabs on “anti-Republican” groups as well.

“Common thread is the word “progressive,” notes the internal lookout list, which noted that the groups “are partisan and appear as anti-Republican.”

In some of the same documents, both progressive and Tea Party groups are listed by the IRS for scrutiny, along with groups that focus on medical marijuana, the Arab-Israeli dispute, the Obama health reform law and more.

The discovery of such “Be On the Look Out” lists (BOLO) aggravated Democrats, as they demanded to know why the internal watchdog at the IRS so forcefully said that only conservative-leaning groups were given the once-over by tax agents.

“The American public expects competent, impartial, unbiased, and non-political treatment from the IRS,” said Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) in a letter to IRS inspector general J. Russell George.

“That same standard is also applicable to you and your organization,” Levin fumed.

Republicans said just because the word “progressive” was found on a BOLO list didn’t mean that somehow Democratic-leaning groups had been harrassed.

Still, the documents did give Democrats something to push back with, after weeks of a seemingly one-sided investigation that dealt mainly with Tea Party complaints.

As for the 83 page report from the new Acting IRS Chief, you can read that here.

Here are links to a series of IRS “BOLO” lists that were posted by Democrats from the last four years:

Aug. 12, 2010

Nov. 9, 2010

Nov. 16, 2010

Feb. 2, 2011

Feb. 8, 2012

March 23, 2011

June 15, 2012

June 16, 2012

June 25, 2012

Feb. 8, 2012

July 10, 2012

July 11, 2012

April 4, 2013

April 10, 2013

April 19, 2013

One more thing about the 83 page internal IRS review – here are the takeways as authored by the IRS on what they found:

FINDINGS                                                                ACTIONS

  • Management and judgment failures contributed to inappropriate treatment of certain taxpayers applying for tax-exempt status.


  • Current fact-gathering has found no evidence of intentional wrongdoing.
  • Current fact-gathering has found no evidence of involvement from anyone outside of the IRS.


  • Current fact-gathering has found no evidence of inappropriate criteria in other IRS business unit operations.


  • The nine TIGTA recommendations, along with additional actions, will help correct the problems identified in the TIGTA audit report.



  • The IRS Commissioner’s Office and other leaders across the IRS do not always have sufficient knowledge of emerging risks.





  • Existing mechanisms to assist taxpayers, such as the Taxpayer Advocacy Service, are neither well understood nor sufficiently leveraged.
  • New leadership has been installed at all 5 levels of management responsible for tax-exempt applications, including top IRS leadership.


  • A newly created Accountability Review Board will recommend within 60 days any additional personnel actions necessary to hold accountable those responsible for the findings in the TIGTA audit report.




  • The use of BOLO lists has been suspended.


  • To clear the current backlog, a voluntary, self-certification process is now available to expedite those tax-exemption applicants who have waited longer than 120 days for a decision.


  • A new process will assess criteria and screening procedures across the IRS to identify emerging risks.
  • A new Enterprise Risk Management Program will design a framework for identifying risk areas across the IRS, so that IRS leadership and external stakeholders are aware of such issues.


  • The IRS will initiate new education and outreach regarding the role of the National Taxpayer Advocate.