Aaron Fobes, Julia Lawless (202) 224-4515
Finance Committee IRS Investigation Update
Today, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) released an update on their bipartisan investigation into inappropriate treatment by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of organizations applying for tax-exempt status. The Senators have learned that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has been able to recover some forensic data which may include documents the IRS believed were missing. This data may include emails to and/or from Lois Lerner which could be material to the investigation. TIGTA plans to assess whether this data can be converted into a readable format and then produce these materials to the Committee as soon as they have fully recovered and validated them.
“From the onset of our bipartisan investigation, we’ve remained committed to getting to the truth and ensuring that the IRS treats all tax-exempt applicants fairly,” Wyden and Hatch said today. “Since the launch of our investigation in May 2013, our investigators have interviewed more than 30 current and former IRS and Treasury employees and have reviewed nearly one million pages of documents. Though we are in the final stages of finishing our bipartisan report, TIGTA has yet to release its findings regarding the lost Lois Lerner e-mails at the IRS.
“Given our commitment to ensuring a complete and thorough investigation into this issue, we will review TIGTA’s findings concerning the missing data before we release a report,” the Senators continued. “We will continue with our bipartisan efforts and expect to issue a complete report early next year.”
On May 20, 2013, the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee sent a detailed, 41 question document request to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requesting information about the alleged targeting by the IRS of conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status. That letter marked the beginning of a bipartisan investigation by the Committee into the IRS’ activities related to the review of tax-exempt applications and related issues raised by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) in their May 14, 2013, report.
To date, Committee investigators have interviewed more than 30 current and former IRS and Treasury employees and have reviewed nearly one million pages of documents. In June of this year, Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch learned that the IRS was not able to produce all emails originating from Lois Lerner and other IRS officials needed to complete the Senate Finance Committee investigation. As a result, the Senators asked TIGTA to investigate the matter. Specifically, TIGTA is looking into: 1) what records the IRS lost; 2) if there was any attempt to deliberately destroy records, or otherwise impede congressional and federal investigations; and 3) whether any of the missing information can be recovered.
TIGTA has advised that they expect to conclude their investigation soon but the Senate Finance Committee will not be able to complete its bipartisan investigation before the end of this Congress.
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