Earlier this week, left-leaning Americans latched on to reports that the Internal Revenue Service targeted liberal nonprofits with the same vigor that it has conservative groups vying for tax-exempt status. But a review of the numbers tells a different story.
According to revelations from the Treasury Department’s inspector general, just six progressive groups were subject to increased scrutiny; 292 conservative groups were put under the IRS microscope. Furthermore, the IG noted in a letter to Congressional Democrats, 100 percent of Tea Party groups seeking nonprofit status were put under review, compared to just 30 percent of progressive groups.
Liberals based claims that the IRS also heavily targeted progressive groups on the inclusion of progressive groups on the agency’s so-called Be On The Lookout, or BOLO, list. The Treasury inspector, however, said that list was not used in targeting the groups at the heart of the controversy.
From the IG letter:
Based on the information you flagged regarding the existence of a “Progressives” entry on BOLO lists, TIGTA performed additional research which determined that six tax-exempt applications filed between May 2010 and May 2012 having the words “progress” or “progressive” in their names were included in the 298 cases the IRS identified as potential political cases. We also determined that 14 tax-exempt applications filed between May 2010 and May 2012 using the words “progress” or “progressive” in their names were not referred for added scrutiny as potential political cases. In total, 30 percent of the organizations we identified with the words “progress” or “progressive” in their names were processed as potential political cases. In comparison, our audit found that 100 percent of the tax-exempt applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names were processed as potential political cases during the timeframe of our audit.
“At this point, the evidence shows us that conservative groups were not only flagged, but targeted and abused by the IRS,” said Sarah Swinehart, a spokeswoman for Ways and Means Chairman Representative Dave Camp R-Mich., responding to the IG letter.