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IRS Chief Counsel Helped Develop Tea Party Targeting Guidelines

AP
• July 17, 2013 2:55 pm

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The chief counsel's office for the Internal Revenue Service played a role in developing the IRS guidelines that ultimately applied enhanced scrutiny to Tea Party groups, according to a top IRS attorney, the Washington Post reports:

In interviews with congressional investigators, IRS lawyer Carter Hull said his superiors told him that the chief counsel’s office, led by William Wilkins, would need to review applications that the agency had screened for additional scrutiny because of potential political activity.

Previous accounts from IRS employees had shown that Washington IRS officials were involved in the controversy, but Hull’s comments represent the closest connection to the White House to date.

According to a partial transcript released by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chief counsel’s office also discussed using a template letter to ask questions about the groups’ activities, despite Hull’s warning that such a boilerplate approach would be impractical.

The chief counsel's office is headed by a political appointee made by President Obama.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that IRS agents flagged organizations applying for tax-exempt status for further review based on political or ideological grounds. Applicants with names that included the words "Tea Party" or "patriots," described issues including government spending or tax policy,  or whose applications criticized how the government is being run were directed to a group for further review.

Published under: Federal Bureaucracy, IRS, Tea Party