Further IRS Targeting Scrutiny

Two House committees moved this week to expand their probe of the IRS, which came under fire earlier this year for targeting conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status. On Wednesday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-LA) announced that they had requested from IRS Acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel details behind email exchanges between the IRS and the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). The Committee uncovered emails between IRS employee Lois Lerner, who earlier pleaded the 5th Amendment in a Congressional hearing, and the General Counsel’s office at the FEC. Rep. Camp and Rep. Boustany stated, “We have serious concerns that this e-mail exchange demonstrates a continued pattern of the IRS unlawfully sharing confidential taxpayer information with others outside the agency. Whether it is the targeting of donors for additional taxes or the purposeful leak of confidential taxpayer information, the steady stream of abuses only seems to continue.”

Earlier in the week, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked the Treasury Department to expand the IRS investigation to allegations of political targeting of organizations that had already received tax-exempt status. Citing as an example the inappropriate questioning of the conservative Leadership Institute, founded by Morton Blackwell, Rep. Issa and Rep. Jordan declared, “The totality of your ‘targeting’ investigation along with evidence obtained by the Committee points to the fact that the IRS may have selected certain conservative organizations for additional scrutiny after the IRS already approved their tax-exempt status.” Notably, earlier this year, several NRB member organizations also reported suspicious questioning from IRS agents. NRB President & CEO Dr. Frank Wright was greatly concerned. "Pernicious targeting of faith-based organizations by any state actor must not be tolerated," he wrote to Congressional leaders. 

At NRB’s 2013 Convention, the NRB Board of Directors unanimously approved a Resolution urging Congress to be wary of “IRS rules that would negatively impact religious non-profit organizations, or which would create entangling, or oppressive oversight from the government, or that would impair the constitutional autonomy of religious organizations or churches.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: August 2, 2013