IRS screened liberals? 'Progressive' and 'Occupy' targeted too, says new IRS chief
IRS screening of groups seeking tax-exempt status was broader and lasted longer than has been previously disclosed, the new head of the agency acknowledged Monday.
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"We have not found evidence of intentional wrongdoing by anyone in the IRS or involvement in these matters by anyone outside the IRS," he told reporters.Skip to next paragraph
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The report found no indication so far of improper screening beyond the IRS offices, mostly in Cincinnati, that examine groups seeking tax-exempt status.
Werfel's report describes several new procedures the agency is installing to prevent unfair treatment of taxpayers in the future. They include a fast-track process for groups seeking tax-exempt status that have yet to get a response from the IRS within 120 days of applying. He is also creating an Accountability Review Board, which within 60 days is supposed to recommend any additional personnel moves "to hold accountable those responsible" for the targeting of conservative groups, Werfel's report said.
The top five people in the agency responsible for the tax-exempt status of organizations have already been removed, including the former acting commissioner, Steven Miller, whom President Barack Obama replaced with Werfel.
"The IRS is committed to correcting its mistakes, holding individuals accountable as appropriate" and establishing new controls to reduce potential future problems, Werfel told reporters.
IRS screening of conservative groups had sparked investigations by three congressional committees, the Justice Department and a Treasury Department inspector general.
Werfel's comments and report drew negative reviews from one of the IRS's chief critics in Congress, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Issa said the review "fails to meaningfully answer the largest outstanding questions about inappropriate inquiries and indefensible delays. As investigations by Congress and the Justice Department are still ongoing, Mr. Werfel's assertion that he has found no evidence that anyone at IRS intentionally did anything wrong can only be called premature."
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., whose panel is also investigating the agency, said the IRS "still needs to provide clear answers to the most significant questions — who started this practice, why was it allowed to continue for so long, and how widespread was it? This culture of political discrimination and intimidation goes far beyond basic management failure and personnel changes alone won't fix a broken IRS."
Werfel had promised to produce a report within a month of taking over the agency.
Werfel said he briefed Obama and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew on the report earlier Monday.
Werfel, initially named the IRS's acting commissioner, is now the agency's deputy principal commissioner because federal law limits the time an agency can be led by an acting official.
Associated Press writers Stephen Ohlemacher and Henry C. Jackson contributed to this report.