When word broke that a branch of the IRS had targeted conservative groups applying for tax exempt status, Tea Part corporation groups were outraged. Outraged, I say.
At the same time, I wrote here --
That the Tea Party corporations are outraged is not only the basic core of their being, so it’s not particularly news, but they have to convince others in the middle to be just as outraged. And that’s a problem because –
1) The IRS has every right to look into any group applying for tax exempt status.
2) During the same period, the IRS actually looked into liberal groups, too, applying for tax exempt status, not just conservative groups.
It's now turning out that the IRS didn't only look into liberal groups -- but targeted them, as well. As the Associate Press reported on Monday --
"The Internal Revenue Service’s 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. Terms including ‘'Israel,’ ''Progressive’ and '‘Occupy’' were used by agency workers to help pick groups for closer examination, according to an internal IRS document obtained by The Associated Press."
In fact, it's even more blunt than that. The BOLO ("Be On the Lookout") document states --
Issue 2: Common thread is the word "progressive". Activities appear to lean toward a new political party. Activities are partisan and appear as anti-Republican.
"Appear to be anti-Republican." Be on the lookout for that. Don't allow that.
In one of the great, polite statements of subtlety, Sam Stein of The Huffington Post writes, "The revelations greatly complicate the political scandal that has engulfed the IRS over the past few weeks."
Yes, greatly complicate the issue, indeed. Like turns it inside out and makes it a completely different issue entirely.
No one should, of course, be "targeted" by the IRS based on political beliefs, and if that's what has happened, it's a problem that should be investigated -- and is being investigated. But if the IRS is look at all groups, on every side of the spectrum, then this isn't a case at all that the "IRS is Targeting the Tea Party." It might be that they're overzealous looking into everyone. Or it might be that they're doing what I wrote above. Looking into groups applying for tax exempt status whoever they are.
Again, if they're targeting groups -- conservative or liberal -- that's certainly a problem. But if they're creating BOLO lists for any group trying to claim tax exempt lists based on general terms that raise a red flag -- and they're doing it fairly -- that's simply another matter.
I don't like any group being targeted. That's a no-brainer. But I do like every group applying for tax exempt status being looked into, to make sure they're actually a tax-exempt organization and not trying to skirt the laws with a purely political agenda. Unfortunately, the IRS doesn't have the maneuver.to check everyone. So -- IF the BOLO lists are being created fairly, with red flags the same as those used on individual returns -- I'm not so sure that that's an issue that bothers me, at least nearly as much.
At the very least, it does appear the the Tea Party Outrage (tm) is not, shockingly, justified.
But, we'll see what turns up next.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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