May 14,2013

Press Contact:

Julia Lawless, Antonia Ferrier, 202.224.4515

TIGTA Report Summary on IRS Targeting Conservative Groups

Compiled By Senate Finance Committee Republican Staff


TO:        Reporters and Editors
FROM:   Antonia Ferrier and Julia Lawless for Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin              Hatch (R-Utah)
RE:        TIGTA Report on IRS Targeting Conservative Groups
DATE:     Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Today, the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration (TIGTA) released its report on the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Following is a report summary compiled by the Senate Finance Committee Republican staff. In addition, a timeline of events can be found HERE.  


Determine whether allegations were founded that the IRS:

  • Targeted specific groups applying for tax-exempt status
  • Delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications
  • Requested unnecessary information from targeted groups


  • IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of other objective criteria.
  • Ineffective management allowed the following to occur:
    • Inappropriate criteria was developed that stayed in place for more than 18 months.
      • About 1/3 of the applications subjected to additional processing included Tea Party, Patriots or 9/12 in their names.
  • Resulted in substantial delays in processing certain applications.
    • All applications that included the inappropriate criteria experienced substantial delays in processing.
    • The majority of the impacted applications sat without any work done on them for 13 months.
    • 28 applications were withdrawn given the length of time taken to process.
    • 160 out of the 196 applications reviewed by TIGTA were open from 206 to 1138 calendar days which crossed two election cycles and spanned 3 years.
  • Allowed unnecessary information requests to be issued and then later informed some of those groups that they did not need to provide the information which was previously requested.
    • TIGTA determined that the additional information requests sent out to 98 of 170 (58 percent) organizations that received those requests were unnecessary.
    • Examples of unnecessary questions included: 
      • names of donors
      • list of all issues important to the organization and the position of the organization on those issues
      • the political affiliation of the officer, director, speakers, candidates supported, etc.


  • Ineffective oversight by IRS management led to significant delays in processing potential political cases.
  • Lack of specific guidance to the Determinations Unit specialists on what activities are allowed by 501(c)(4) organizations led to confusion and delays in the review of the applications.
  • It took nearly two years after this criteria was first flagged as potentially inappropriate for the IRS to provide a 2 day training workshop to the specialists in May 2012 to train them on what activities are allowable by a 501(c)(4) organization.
  • Political cases on average were taking 574 calendar days to process as compared to 238 calendar days for regular tax exempt organizations.
  • IRS senior management failed to ensure that staff followed orders about screening after management became aware of inappropriate political targeting in July 2011.
  • 501(c)(5) organizations are subject to the same tests as 501(c)(4) organizations. There was a larger spike in percentage terms in 501(c)(5) applications in 2012 than there was in 501(c)(4)s, yet there was no profiling of 501(c)(5)s.


  • IRS agreed with 7 of the 9 recommendations from TIGTA and proposed alternative corrective actions for the remaining two.  TIGTA does not think those alternatives will address their recommendations.

While the IRS has taken limited action, a lot more needs to be done restore public confidence.

Source: Summary compiled by the Senate Finance Committee Republican Staff.