Yesterday, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a report on the IRS targeting of conservative organizations. Republican Representative Darrell Issa (CA-49), the outgoing Committee Chair, released the report that reviewed over 1.3 million pages of documents and 52 transcribed interviews.

The report is the most extensive to date.

The report’s conclusion found:

Conservative organizations were not just singled out because of their political beliefs—they were targeted by IRS officials and employees who expressed a general loathing toward them even while begrudgingly admitting that those organizations were in compliance with the only thing the IRS should care about: the federal tax code. Documents and interviews show IRS officials failed to limit their professional judgments to enforcing the tax code and instead inserted their own beliefs and judgments into federal matters to influence outcomes and decisions. One IRS agent wrote about an organization applying for 501(c)(4) status that donated to other organizations that engaged in political activity, “I’m not sure we can deny them because, technically, I don’t know that I can deny them simply for donating to another 501(c)(4).” Another agent responded, “This sounds like a bad org . . . This org gives me an icky feeling.”

The most concerning piece of information gleaned from the report is that targeting individuals or groups for ideological reasons appears to be a widely accepted tactic among IRS employees, not simply a directive from above.

Based on some of the emails included in the report, it seems as though individuals were actively looking for reasons to deny conservative applications.

One employee wrote in an email, “It appears that the org is funneling money to other orgs for political purposes. However, I’m not sure we can deny them because, technically, I don’t know that I can deny them simply for donating to another 501(c)(4). . . . Any thoughts or feedback would be greatly appreciated.” 

As noted above, yet another IRS employee felt “icky” (sad face and all) because of a “bad org”: “I think there may be a number of ways to deny them. Let me talk to Sharon [Light] tomorrow about it and get some ideas from her as well. . . . This sounds like a bad org. :/ . . . This org gives me an icky feeling.”

There was also an effort to distinguish Tea Party organizations from other (c)(4) organizations. One IRS employee who expressed concern wrote, “These [Tea Party] organizations mostly concentrate on their activities on the limiting government, limiting government role, or reducing government size, or paying less tax. I think it[‘]s different from the other social welfare organizations which are (c)(4).” 

The Oversight Committee has promised this is not a final report; but it is an unsettling picture of the IRS’s attitude, as a whole, towards conservative and Tea Party organizations.

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