THE TARGETING of conservative groups by the US tax authority has been branded “outrageous” by Barack Obama.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) singled out groups with the key words ‘Tea Party’ and ‘Patriot’ in their names, which were subjected to extra scrutiny as far back as August 2011, Reuters reports.
Doug Shulman, then commissioner of the IRS, told congressional panels in late March 2012 that no groups were being targeted for extra scrutiny by the tax agency.
The IRS has maintained that its senior leadership did not know for some time that lower-level agents were applying extra scrutiny to applications for tax-exempt status from groups with key words in their names, such as “Tea Party” and “Patriot”.
In a statement, the body said acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller was first informed in early May 2012 that some groups seeking tax-exempt status had been “improperly identified by name” and subjected to extra scrutiny.
US taxpayers had to have confidence the tax agency was applying the law in a non-partisan fashion, the president said.
“You don’t want the IRS ever being perceived to be biased and anything less than neutral,” Obama said. “This is something that I think people are properly concerned about.
“I’ve got no patience with it, I will not tolerate it and I will make sure that we find out exactly what happened.”
The Tea Party is a loosely organised movement of anti-tax conservative activists, and the word ‘patriot’ in US politics has largely come to denote a conservative stance.
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