Timeline of Key Events Surrounding IRS Targeting of Conservative Groups
March 1, 2010: An IRS manager in Cincinnati, Ohio asks employees to begin searching for 501(c) tax exemption applications using the terms Tea Party, Patriots and 9/12 as their criteria.
April 1, 2010: Managers in Washington, DC and Cincinnati decide to send a “Sensitive Case Report” about the Tea Party cases up the chain in Washington.
April 19, 2010: The Sensitive Case Report is shared with two executives in Washington, DC, one of whom is Lois Lerner and the other her immediate subordinate.
August 12, 2010: The IRS creates a “BOLO” (Be on the Lookout) listing instructing agents to identify Tea Party case files.
December 13, 2010: A manager for the Exempt Organizations (EO) group at the IRS in Washington informs the manager in Cincinnati that the processing of Tea Party cases would soon be reviewed with the Senior Technical Advisor to Lois Lerner, the Director of EO.
June 1, 2011: The Acting Director of Rulings and Agreements in Washington, DC, Lois Lerner’s immediate subordinate, asks the manager in Cincinnati for the criteria used to identify Tea Party groups.
June 29, 2011: The Director of EO in Washington, DC, Lois Lerner, is briefed that the criteria being used by employees includes “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” “9/12 Project,” “Government Spending,” “Government Debt,” “Taxes,” “make America a better place to live,” and cases with statements that criticize how the country is being run.
July 5, 2011: The BOLO listing criteria is revised to search for “organizations involved in political, lobbying, or advocacy.”
January 25, 2012: The BOLO is updated to change the search criteria to “limiting/expanding Government,” “Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” and “social economic reform/movement.”
March 12, 2012: Senator Chuck Schumer sends a letter to IRS Commissioner Shulman along with six of his Democrat colleagues, calling for the agency to impose a strict cap on the amount of political spending by tax-exempt, nonprofit groups.
March 14, 2012: 12 Republican Senators urge the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to prevent politics from playing a role in any action taken on non-profit 501(c)(4) organizations.
March 22, 2012: IRS Commissioner Shulman testifies before the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee saying, “I can give you assurances..[t]here is absolutely no targeting [of conservative groups].”
March 23 – 27, 2012: Steven Miller, Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement, asks his Senior Technical Advisor to look into what was going on in the Cincinnati office regarding Tea Party applications.
April 26, 2012: Steven Miller Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement sends response to March 14th GOP letter. The letter does not acknowledge that the IRS had inappropriately targeted tea party groups or asked improper questions about their contributors.
May 3, 2012: Steven Miller Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement is briefed that these conservative groups had been targeted by the IRS.
May 2012: TIGTA briefs Commissioner Shulman on the targeting by the IRS of tea party applications for 501(c)(4) status.
June 18, 2012: 11 Senators call on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for additional answers on the agency’s decision to request confidential donor information from organizations applying for tax exempt status. The Senators said such action circumvented current statutory privacy protections and questioned the targeting of groups specifically seeking the approval or renewal of a tax-exempt designation under section 501(c)(4).
August 9, 2012: 10 GOP Senators write to IRS Commissioner Shulman, again, asking the agency to clarify its intentions for 501(c)(4) organizations. The Senators questioned the IRS’s response to a public rulemaking petition from outside groups pressuring the agency to take action on 501(c)(4)s and said it was essential that politics not play any role in its decision-making process.
September 11, 2012: Steven Miller Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement sends response to June 18th GOP letter. The letter does not acknowledge that the IRS had inappropriately targeted tea party groups or asked improper questions about their contributors.
November 9, 2012: IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman steps down at the end of his 5-year term and Steven Miller is named Acting Commissioner.
Source: Unless otherwise noted, the timeline dates can be attributed to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) briefings given to key Committees of jurisdiction this week.