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Outgoing IRS Boss: We Did Not Target Progressive Groups

Outgoing IRS Boss: We Did Not Target Progressive Groups

Steven Miller, the outgoing acting IRS Commissioner, conceded on Friday that the IRS did not have a streamlined process to target tax-exempt applications from groups that had words like “progressive” or “organizing” in their names, in contrast to how the agency targeted conservative groups that had the words “Tea Party” or “patriots” in their names. 

On Thursday, President Barack Obama said he intended to fix the current IRS laws that “create a bunch of ambiguity,” but Miller’s testimony suggested there were no such ambiguities that led the agency to give applications from groups with progressive-sounding names the scrutiny conservative groups received. 

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), during Miller’s hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, specifically asked, “There were no ‘progressive’ or ‘organizing’ buzzwords that were used for targeting, is that correct?”

The Wisconsin Representative and Budget Chair said Miller had given the Committee a list of “approved tax-exempt applications for advocacy organizations through 2009”; Ryan noted he did not know “how long these applications sat or how long it took to process them.”

Ryan said even though the “IRS was doing this because they were concerned about political activities by non-profits,” groups that the IRS approved for tax-exempt status while targeting Tea Party and conservative groups included “Chattanooga Organizing for Action, Progressive Leadership Alliance, and Progressive USA.”

“If you were concerned about political activity, did you have targeting lists that contained words like ‘progressive’ or ‘organizing’ in their names?” Ryan asked Miller. 

Miller said the IRS “centralized cases based on political activity evidenced in the file” and “we took a shortcut on some of it… but we collected, to be blunt, more than Tea Party cases.”

But when Ryan specifically asked him again whether the IRS targeted groups that had “progressive” or “organizing” in their names, Miller sheepishly answered that the agency did not. 

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