WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Internal Revenue Service staff have a long history of discouraging applications for tax-exempt status from controversial groups by burying them in complicated questionnaires, according to former IRS officials. Among other reasons, they said, the tactic was sometimes used to persuade groups to drop their applications so the IRS could avoid making a ruling.
This approach – allegedly used in the recent IRS targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups – has been around for decades, the officials said, citing lengthy questionnaires sent to applicants including religious and gay-rights organizations and a children’s summer camp group that promotes atheist thinking.
WASHINGTON, June 3 (Reuters) – Internal Revenue Service
staff have a long history of discouraging applications for
tax-exempt status from controversial groups by burying them in
complicated questionnaires, according to former IRS officials.
Among other reasons, they said, the tactic was sometimes used to
persuade groups to drop their applications so the IRS could
avoid making a ruling.
This approach – allegedly used in the recent IRS targeting
of Tea Party and other conservative groups – has been around for
decades, the officials said, citing lengthy questionnaires sent
to applicants including religious and gay-rights organizations
and a children’s summer camp group that promotes atheist
Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines.
* Donors to Republican group drew IRS scrutiny. John McKinnon – The Wall Street Journal. At the same time the Internal Revenue Service was targeting tea-party groups, the tax agency took the unusual step of trying to impose gift taxes on donors to a prominent conservative advocacy group formed in 2007 to build support for President George W. Bush’s Iraq troop surge. Link
* IRS training videos spoof ‘Star Trek,’ Gilligan’s Island’ and ‘Cupid Shuffle.’ Ed O’Keefe – The Washington Post. The Internal Revenue Service is acknowledging that the agency spent tens of millions of dollars in recent years on conferences for thousands of its employees. Link
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Republican U.S. congressman investigating the Internal Revenue Service’s scrutiny of conservative groups said on Sunday the targeting was likely directed from Washington, a claim quickly rejected by a top Congressional Democrat involved in the probe.
In a move that could jeopardize the bipartisan co-operation that so far has characterized Congress’s IRS investigations, Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said on CNN that interviews his staff conducted last week with Cincinnati IRS employees indicate these employees were being “directly ordered” from Washington to target Tea Party groups.
Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines.
* EU’s trading tax takes slow road. Tom Fairless – The Wall Street Journal. Deep disagreements among 11 European Union states that have pledged to introduce a tax on financial transactions mean the proposal faces delays and could be significantly scaled back, EU diplomats involved in the discussions said on Thursday. Link
* Richest 20 percent get half the overall savings from U.S. tax breaks, CBO says. Lori Montgomery – The Washington Post. The 10 largest breaks in the U.S. tax code will save taxpayers more than $900 billion this year, with just over half the benefits flowing to the richest 20 percent of households, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday. Link
* Swiss bow to pressure for more bank data. Laura Saunders and John Letzing – The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. government won a victory against tax cheats with offshore bank accounts after Swiss officials agreed Wednesday to let banks release information on the overall holdings of their American clients. Link
* New IRS chief taps GAO’s Fisher as senior adviser. John McKinnon – The Wall Street Journal. Danny Werfel, acting commissioner of the embattled Internal Revenue Service, went outside the agency for a top lieutenant, tapping David Fisher of the Government Accountability Office to be the tax agency’s chief risk officer and senior adviser to the commissioner. Link
* Republicans stoking fire of IRS scandal with eye toward 2014. Josh Hicks – The Washington Post. Republicans have been trying to take advantage of the Internal Revenue Service’s politically toxic targeting scandal to better position their party for the 2014 midterm elections. And one big area of focus is President Obama’s new health-care law. Link
Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines from Reuters and other sources.
* Groups targeted by IRS tested rules on politics. Nicholas Confessore and Michael Luo – The New York Times. A close examination of some conservative groups and others reveals an array of election activities that tax experts and former IRS officials said would provide a legitimate basis for flagging them for closer review. Link
* High-end health plans scale back to avoid ‘Cadillac tax’. Reed Abelson – The New York Times. Companies hoping to avoid the tax are beginning to scale back the more generous health benefits they have traditionally offered and to look harder for ways to bring down the overall cost of care. Link
* In tax overhaul debate, large vs small companies. Graham Bowley – The New York Times. Some of the biggest companies in the United States are fighting for a cut in the official corporate tax rate. But the nation’s millions of small businesses fear they will be the ones paying for it. Link
* States’ rift on taxes widens. Mark Peters – The Wall Street Journal. Minnesota’s move to raise new taxes puts it among a handful of states controlled by Democrats that are adopting more liberal fiscal policies at a time when many Republican-dominated statehouses are pushing to cut taxes. Link
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lois Lerner, an Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the scandal over the agency’s extra scrutiny of conservative groups, was put on administrative leave on Thursday after she refused to resign, a U.S. senator said.
Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa said new acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel was the one who asked for Lerner’s resignation.