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IRS Fails to Meet Deadlines in Tea Party Targeting Probe

Baucus, left, and Hatch wrote a letter to the IRS. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Baucus, left, and Hatch wrote a letter to the IRS. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Followers of the #WGDB blog will recall that Friday was the deadline for the IRS to turn over a slew of documents to the Senate Finance Committee related to the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking member Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, are seeking answers to 41 questions along with a lot of accompanying documents related to the manner in which the IRS reviewed nonprofit applications from various organizations, including an array of tea-party-affiliated groups. Finance Committee aides say the panel’s requests won’t be honored by the end of the day Friday.

“It’s disappointing that the IRS failed to produce any of the documents requested by the Committee,” the offices of Baucus and Hatch said in a joint statement.

“This is an agency that revolves around making the American taxpayer meet hard deadlines each and every year when they file their taxes, oftentimes penalizing those that are late,” they said. “The IRS needs to do much better.”

The Finance panel’s counterparts in the House at the Ways and Means Committee made a similar request for documents, seeking a response by May 21. The IRS didn’t fulfill that one, either. In a statement, the IRS is saying that the agency is working to comply with requests from Congress, but the timeline was just too short.

“The IRS and Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel are moving aggressively and taking the data requests very seriously. As a precautionary measure, the IRS is casting a wide net to capture any potentially related materials,” the IRS said. “Our goal is to be exceedingly thorough during this process to ensure we identify any and all pertinent records. The IRS has received numerous congressional requests involving an extensive set of questions and calls for data. Responding to these requests is a top priority for us. We have been in contact with committee staff, and we continue to provide them updates as we diligently work through these requests.”

But don’t expect lawmakers to let up.

GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio accused the Obama administration of an effort to “evade straightforward questions” about the IRS matter. “Contrary to the President’s claims, the IRS is not an independent agency. It answers to him and it is today led by his appointee,” Portman said in a statement. “Rather than show leadership and direct the IRS to respond promptly to this bipartisan inquiry, the President continues to shirk his responsibility to get to the bottom of this scandal.”

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