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

Jun 24, 2013

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today provided Congressional investigators with new information that shows that the term “progressives” was included on the IRS “Be On the Look Out” (BOLO) lists used to screen tax-exemption applications. The so-called BOLO lists were previously known to have included criteria singling out conservative organizations -- this is the first evidence, however, that the lists included "progressives" as an identifier. Separately, Ways and Means Committee Democratic staff has now verified that the list of 298 organizations reviewed by TIGTA included liberal organizations. Linked here is a copy of the November 2010 BOLO. We will be releasing additional BOLOs as they are received from the IRS.

In response to the new information, which is based on a Ways and Means Committee investigation of the Internal Revenue Service's handling of tax-exemption applications, Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Levin today is taking the following actions:

  • Writing a letter to Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George requesting that he explain why he released an audit report on May 14 that omits vital information regarding the processing of tax-exemption applications by the IRS and why he subsequently failed to disclose this information in congressional hearings. 
  • Requesting that Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp hold a hearing where the Inspector General can explain the glaring omission in his audit report.
  • Requesting that the interviews conducted to date be reevaluated and possibly supplemented in light of the information learned today.

“The audit served as the basis and impetus for a wide range of Congressional investigations and this new information shows that the foundation of those investigations is flawed in a fundamental way,” RepLevin said

The November 2010 BOLO makes clear the following:

  • The “Be On the Look Out” lists contained the word “Progressives.”  In May 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”) released an audit report stating that the IRS used “inappropriate criteria” to process tax-exemption applications.  The Inspector General only disclosed in the audit report that the “Be On the Look Out” lists used by the IRS to screen tax-exemption applications for processing contained the name “Tea Party.”  Based on our investigation, it has become clear that the Inspector General failed to inform the Congress that the following category also appears on the same BOLOs that contain the “Tea Party” criteria and even appears on the BOLOs after the “Tea Party” criteria had been removed:

Category Name in the BOLO

Description in the BOLO


Political activities.  Common thread is the word “progressive.”  Activities appear to lean toward a new political party.  Activities are partisan and appear anti-Republican.  You see references to “blue” as being “progressive.” Applicants submit 1023.  Their “progressive” activities appear to show that (c)(3) may not be appropriate.


The BOLOs are linked to below, as provided (in redacted form) today 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