Skip to content

IG and Committee Investigation Confirm Progressive Groups Were Not Targeted Like Tea Party Groups

June 27, 2013


Liberal groups seeking tax-exempt status faced less IRS scrutiny than Tea Party groups, according to the Treasury inspector general.

Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, told Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) in a letter dated Wednesday that the IRS did not use inappropriate criteria to scrutinize groups with “progressives” in their name seeking tax-exempt status.

The Treasury Department watchdog who detailed Internal Revenue Service mistreatment of tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status says he has no evidence the IRS also mishandled progressive groups’ applications, even as Democrats continue criticizing him for conducting a one-sided probe.

Refuting Democratic suggestions that progressive groups were also swept up in the IRS probe of the tax status of Tea Party organizations, the Treasury Department’s inspector general has revealed that just six progressive groups were targeted compared to 292 conservative groups.

The inspector general for the Internal Revenue Service says he was aware that IRS employees were instructed to scrutinize applications from self-described “progressive” groups, but found no evidence it was used between mid-2010 and mid-2012, the period when tea-party groups were targeted.

In a letter to congressional Democrats, the inspector general said a small number of groups with the words “progress” or “progressive” in their names were flagged for review by the IRS during the period. But that review appeared to be part of a broader look at groups—such as tea-party organizations—that might have some potential for excessive political activity.

Tea Party groups were more likely than self-identified “progressives” to be given extra scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service from 2010 through 2012, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

The IRS paid special attention to 30 percent of groups with “progress” or “progressive” in their names that filed applications for tax-exempt status between May 2010 and May 2012. All groups with “Tea Party,” “patriot,” or “9/12” in their names during that time received extra scrutiny.