The language is not dramatic, but the message is clear: A much-anticipated report from the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration is straightforward about how Internal Revenue Service personnel unfairly singled out some conservative groups for unnecessary scrutiny during the 2012 campaign cycle.
"The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention. Ineffective management:
1) allowed inappropriate criteria to be developed and stay in place for more than 18 months, 2) resulted in substantial delays in processing certain applications, and 3) allowed unnecessary information requests to be issued."
And in the report, the inspector general says that while IRS personnel did put applications from some other types of organizations through extra reviews, "we determined during our reviews of statistical samples of I.R.C. § 501(c)(4) tax-exempt applications that all cases with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names were forwarded to the team of specialists" for added scrutiny. (We added the bold face type.)
Was the extra scrutiny motivated by partisan politics? The report does not reach that conclusion. Investigators say lower-level IRS personnel applied terms such as "tea party" when dealing with the applications to streamline the process of determining which groups should and should not get tax-exempt status. Those personnel "did not consider the public perception of using politically sensitive criteria when identifying these cases," the report says.
We've put a copy of the report online, and will embed it in a box below.
Later today, Attorney Gen. Eric Holder is expected to face questions from members of Congress about the IRS scandal. He said Tuesday that the Justice Department is going to investigate whether any laws were broken by IRS personnel.
Related stories and posts:
— "5 Takeaways From IRS Report." (Politico)
— "IRS Inquiries Crossed The Line, Tea Party Groups Say." (Morning Edition)
— "Controversies Risk Starving Obama's Agenda Of Air." (It's All Politics)