Judge orders IRS to stop targeting conservative groups
A judge in Ohio is ordering the IRS to stop targeting conservative groups applying for tax exempt status and to make an immediate determination on an application by a Tea Party group in Texas.
The decision, made public on Friday, leaves no doubt that despite their claims to the contrary, the IRS is still playing politics in determining the tax exempt status of conservative groups - some of whom have been waiting for years to be approved.
The IRS is still targeting tea party groups for illegal scrutiny by refusing to process applications that have been pending for years, a federal court said in a ruling made public Friday, ordering the tax agency to quit stalling.
U.S. District Judge Michael R. Barrett said the IRS can still either approve or deny the Texas Patriots Tea Party’s application for nonprofit status, but the agency can no longer sit on its hands. And he said the IRS must give the application an honest evaluation without prejudice stemming from the yearslong targeting.
In a series of stark findings, Judge Barrett ruled that the IRS did in fact single tea party groups out for special scrutiny because of their political viewpoints in opposition to President Obama — undercutting congressional Democrats who said liberal groups faced the same level of targeting.
“The evidence strongly suggests that the IRS initiated the delay because TPTP’s application was perceived at the screening stage to be a Tea Party case,” Judge Barrett, whose courtroom is in Ohio, said in an opinion that was filed earlier under seal, and was only made public after parts of the 29-page ruling were redacted.
It’s the latest blow to the tax agency, which is facing a separate order from a judge in Washington, D.C., to process a handful of other cases the agency had delayed.
The TPTP applied for non-profit status in 2012 and quickly got caught up in the political targeting that snared hundreds of groups.
After the IRS admitted it was maltreating the groups in 2013, the agency began to process most of the applications — but some of the groups sued, and the IRS refused to process their cases. The IRS said its standard policy was to halt applications in litigation, and also said it was afraid that by beginning processing it would open its agents up to lawsuits against them individually.
Judge Barrett rejected each of those arguments, saying that the IRS itself admitted the litigation policy wasn’t absolute and saying that agents who take an honest look at the application aren’t likely to face a lawsuit.
The TPTP is part of a broader class action lawsuit against the IRS, but it was the only member of the class whose application was still pending.
The arrogance of this out of control agency is breathtaking. Judge after judge in ruling after ruling has ordered the IRS to halt their illegal targeting of conservative groups, but the IRS has, in effect, thumbed its nose at the courts and continues to play politics with tax exempt applications by conservatives.
The real world impact is that most of these groups who've had their applications slow walked through the system wither and die because donors can't take the tax deduction from monies they contribute to these groups. That, of course, is the heart of the IRS plan, which has worked for 5 years to stifle the free speech of conservatives.
Conservatives have no other remedy than continuing their defense in the courts. But unless some judge decides to throw a few IRS managers in jail for contempt, the IRS will continue giving the middle finger to the right.