IRS Blames 'Low-Level' Employees for Targeting Conservative Groups

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IRS Scandal

On Friday, the IRS blamed "low-level" employees in its Cincinnati office for targeting tax-exempt organizations that had "Tea Party" or "Patriots" in their names during the 2012 election and apologized for their actions. 

Upon a review of the IRS bureaucracy, though, the Cincinnati office is not a random backwater outpost for "low-level" IRS rogues. In fact, the Cincinnati office is where determinations on tax-exempt organizations' eligibility are made and is the only physical office in the complex IRS bureaucracy dedicated to tax-exempt determinations. 

On the IRS's website, in the "How to Contact the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division" section, the Cincinnati office is the only one listed for people to contact if they have questions about "Charities & Non-Profits":

To obtain a determination letter that applies the principles and precedents previously announced to a specific set of facts, or to transmit copies of amended documents write or fax to:

Internal Revenue Service

Exempt Organizations Determinations

Room 4024

P.O. Box 2508

Cincinnati, OH 45201

According to the Associated Press, Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said the IRS excessively scrutinized Tea Party groups to see if they were in violation of their tax-exempt status. 

“The IRS would like to apologize for that,” Lerner said. "That was wrong.. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That's not how we go about selecting cases for further review."

The IRS then released a statement in which it denied any "political or partisan rationale" for their actions.

Senators, like House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), are not buying it. McConnell has called for an investigation into the IRS's "thuggish" practices. 

Last year, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman denied the organization was targeting conservative groups. 

"There's absolutely no targeting,” he said. 

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