The "IRS Scandal" That Wasn't

Last May, the Treasury Inspector General issued a flawed audit into the agency’s handling of applications for tax-exempt status, failing to even mention that progressive groups were also singled out or that the Inspector General had uncovered no evidence of any political motivation. Since then, House Republicans have not discovered a single piece of evidence showing political motivation or White House involvement.


$18 Million    Amount of taxpayer money that the IRS has spent responding to committee requests related to the so-called “investigations.”

120,000:         Number of total work hours spent by IRS employees to accommodate the “investigations.”

770,000:         Number of pages documents provided by the IRS to Congressional Committees without any indication of political motivation.

60:                  Number of interviews conducted by Congressional Committees with current and former IRS employees.

21:                  Number of Congressional hearings where IRS personnel have answered questions related to the investigation.

5,500:             Number of IRS employee emails that the Inspector General’s chief investigator reviewed – and concluded no indication of political motivation – before the TIGTA audit was published. The IG failed to even mention this investigator-led review of emails until it was revealed in July 2013, two months after the audit was published. “There was no indication that pulling these selected applications was politically motivated,” the head of investigations wrote in an e-mail to the senior staff at TIGTA on May 3, two weeks before the audit was published. “The email traffic indicated there were unclear processing directions and the group wanted to make sure they had guidance on processing the applications so they pulled them. This is a very important nuance.”


  • The IRS Inspector General never mentioned that the term progressive was used to single out applications and was among the terms in the 298 applications reviewed in its audit.
  • A July 2010 powerpoint presentation instructed screeners to use the word “progressive” and “Emerge” alongside “tea party” to select applications for further scrutiny.


  • Email from TIGTA Head of Investigations noting the review of 5,500 emails and concluding: “There was no indication that pulling these selected applications was politically motivated.”
  • PowerPoint presentation dated July 28, 2010 instructing screeners how to screen applications.
  • Meeting minutes from July 28, 2010 presentation.
  • Letter from Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Levin to Inspector General J. Russell George calling on him to explain his serious failure in leaving out critical details in the IG Audit.
  • Memo from Ranking Member Levin laying out new findings that undermine the IG's Audit.

Press Release: New IRS Information Shows “Progressives” Included on BOLO Screening List

The BOLOs are linked to below, as provided (in redacted form) by the IRS:

Aug. 12, 2010

Nov. 9, 2010

Nov. 16, 2010

Feb. 2, 2011

Feb. 8, 2012

March 23, 2011

June 15, 2012

June 16, 2012

June 25, 2012

Feb. 8, 2012

July 10, 2012

July 11, 2012

April 4, 2013

April 10, 2013

April 19, 2013