In 2013, news reports accused the IRS of illegally delaying or denying tax exempt status for conservative non-profit groups. The IRS “lost” a bunch of emails from people at the heart of the controversy, stonewalled congressional investigators by failing to respond to congressional subpoenas, repeatedly destroyed documents that had been subpoenaed, and refused to testify in hearings.
In this 2014 interview with Bill O’Reilly, then President Obama asserted:
- The investigations thus far had uncovered what actually happened.
- “Bone-headed decisions” had been made at the IRS.
- There was not mass corruption at the IRS, in fact there was “not even a smidgeon of corruption.”
- This was only an issue because Fox News kept promoting the story.
Besides the congressional investigation, the FBI launched their own investigation and unsurprisingly found no evidence of wrongdoing. A subsequent Justice Department inquiry found no evidence of illegal activity or the partisan targeting of political groups and found that no IRS official attempted to obstruct justice.
36 Tea Party and other conservative groups brought their own lawsuit against the IRS. After four years, in a consent order filed this week in federal court:
The IRS admits that its treatment of Plaintiffs during the tax-exempt determinations process, including screening their applications based on their names or policy positions, subjecting those applications to heightened scrutiny and inordinate delays, and demanding of some Plaintiffs’ information that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration determined was unnecessary to the agency’s determination of their tax-exempt status, was wrong. For such treatment, the IRS expresses its sincere apology.
The Court hereby declares that discrimination on the basis of political viewpoint in administering the United States tax code violates fundamental First Amendment rights. Disparate treatment of taxpayers based solely on the taxpayers’ names, any lawful positions the taxpayers espouse on any issues, or the taxpayers’ associations or perceived associations with a particular political movement, position, or viewpoint is unlawful.
The IRS did break the law, and a corrupt IRS inspector, FBI, and Justice Department covered it up.
But it’s the media’s fault.