News & Politics

Documents Reveal IRS Also Targeted Liberal Groups

The disclosure that the IRS targeted liberals too deals a blow to the conservative narrative about the scandal.

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) didn’t just target right-wing Tea Party groups. New documents obtained by the Associated Press reveal that liberal groups were also targeted.

IRS workers used terms that included “Israel,” “Occupy,” and “Progressive” to determine who to single out for close scrutiny when organizations applied for tax-exempt status. An investigation into why those terms were used is ongoing.

The revelation from the AP came as IRS Principal Deputy Commissioner Danny Werfel admitted that workers in the Cincinnati IRS office used other “inappropriate” lists to flag tax-exempt applications from political groups. He has ordered a halt to the use of such lists. While he didn’t specify what the contents of the list was, Democrats and the AP have provided the details.

In addition to the document obtained by the AP, Congressional Democrats released a list of terms used by IRS workers to single out groups. The list included terms like “Progressive,” “Tea Party,” “Medical Marijuana,” “Occupied Territory Advocacy” and “Healthcare legislation.” The disclosure that the IRS targeted liberals too deals a blow to the conservative narrative that the Obama administration was singling out right-wing groups in opposition to the president’s policies. Some Republicans, though, continue to insist there was a distinction between how the IRS treated liberal and conservative groups.

"It is one thing to flag a group, it is quite another to repeatedly target and abuse conservative groups,” a statement from the House GOP Ways and Means Committee reads.

The renewed focus on IRS targeting of political groups for scrutiny comes as Deputy Commissioner Danny Werfel released a report on the issue. The report says that there was “insufficient action” to prevent and disclose the screening of political groups. Werfel also says that there was no “intentional wrongdoing” on the part of IRS agents.

Werfel’s report also says that the IRS is taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. These include a faster process for groups who want tax-exempt status but have not received an IRS response within 120 days.


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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