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IRS apologizes: 'wrong . incorrect . insensitive and it was inappropriate'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 10th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a highly rare instance, the Internal Revenue Service has issued an apology. It appears that the IRS inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election. Organizations were flagged if they included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate," Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups, said. "That's not how we go about selecting cases for further review," Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association.
 
In some cases, the conservative groups were asked for their list of donors, which clearly violates IRS policy in most cases, she said. "The IRS would like to apologize for that," she added.

According to Lerner, the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias. Agency officials found out about the practice last year and moved to correct it, the IRS said in a statement.

All in all, about 75 groups were inappropriately targeted - but none had their tax-exempt status revoked, Lerner said.

"Today's acknowledgement by the Obama administration that the IRS did in fact target conservative groups in the heat of last year's national election is not enough," Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said. He called upon the White House to investigate.

"I call on the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not under way at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views."

Many conservative groups had filed complaints during the election that they were being harassed by the IRS. They accused the agency of frustrating their attempts to become tax exempt by sending them lengthy, intrusive questionnaires.

The forms sought information about group members' political activities, including details of their postings on social networking Web sites and about family members.

Certain tax-exempt charitable groups can conduct political activities -- but it cannot be their primary activity.

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