At various points over the past two years, Internal Revenue Service officials targeted nonprofit groups that criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution, according to documents in an audit conducted by the agencyâ€™s inspector general.
The documents, obtained by The Washington Post from a congressional aide with knowledge of the findings, show that on June 29, 2011, IRS staffers held a briefing with senior agency official Lois G. Lerner in which they described giving special attention to instances where â€œstatements in the case file criticize how the country is being run.â€ Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the agency, raised objections and the agency revised its criteria a week later.
But six months later, the IRS applied a new political test to groups that applied for tax-exempt status as â€œsocial welfareâ€ groups, the document says. On Jan. 15, 2012 the agency decided to target â€œpolitical action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform movement.,â€ according to the appendix in the IG report, which was requested by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and has yet to be released.
The new revelations are likely to intensify criticism of the IRS, which has been under fire since agency officials acknowledged they had deliberately targeted groups with â€œtea partyâ€ or â€œpatriotâ€ in their name for heightened scrutiny.
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