Subcommittee Releases Report and Dissenting Views on IRS Handling of 501(c)(4) Applications

WASHINGTON – Today, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., released a 224-page Report [PDF] summarizing the Subcommittee’s bipartisan investigation into problems with how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has processed applications for tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. The Subcommittee Majority staff report is entitled, “IRS and TIGTA Management Failures Related to 501(c)(4) Applicants Engaged in Campaign Activity.” The Subcommittee Minority staff, which did not join the Majority staff report, filed dissenting views entitled, “IRS Targeting Tea Party Groups.” The Subcommittee also released over 1,700 pages of documents from the IRS and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), including emails, correspondence, memoranda, charts, handwritten notes, reports, and analyses.  [1,700 pages of documents available at:]

Chairman Levin said the following upon the report’s release:

“After reviewing nearly 800,000 pages of documents and conducting nearly two dozen IRS and TIGTA employee interviews, the investigation found that the IRS used inappropriate selection criteria, burdensome questions, and lengthy delays in processing applications for 501 (c)(4) tax exempt status from both conservative and liberal groups” said Levin.

“In response to Subcommittee inquiry, the Treasury Inspector General Russell George wrote in a June 2014 letter that the TIGTA audit ‘found no evidence of political bias,’ a letter we are releasing today in conjunction with our report.

“The lack of political bias doesn’t mean, however, that the IRS acted properly. The report criticizes the IRS for its failure to enforce the law which prohibits tax exempt social welfare groups from engaging in campaign activities, and lays out its shortcomings in detail. We are also releasing hundreds of IRS documents so the public can judge for itself what happened.

“At the same time, we criticize the TIGTA audit for failing to include its finding of ‘no evidence of political bias’ at the IRS in its audit report, which led to its report being misconstrued and misused. TIGTA audit’s findings, which found that the IRS used inappropriate selection criteria for conservative groups and subjected them to intrusive questions and improper delays, told only half the story, because it left out that the IRS mistreated liberal groups in the same way, and its key finding that the IRS’ actions were not politically motivated.”