Some of the Tea Party groups targeted by the Internal Revenue Service say their organisations were significantly affected by the probe, affecting everything from their own resources to their donor bases.
On Friday, the IRS apologized for inappropriately targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status whose names contained the words “9/12,” “Tea Party,” and “patriot.” The IRS’ probe dates all the way back to 2010, according to the groups.
Though the IRS initially blamed the targeting on low-level employees in Cincinnati, the Washington Post reported Monday that IRS officials in Washington and at least two other cities were involved.
One of the groups, the Waco Tea Party in Waco, Texas, said it waited nearly two years for any firm action from the IRS after applying for tax-exempt status. The status means that the group must be “primarily engaged” in promoting social welfare, according to the IRS.
Toby Marie Walker, the president of the Waco Tea Party, said the group then received a 20-question form requesting additional information. This form was sent to many different conservative groups.
In the form was a request to provide copies of blog posts, articles, and other media distributed to members. That included copies of tweets, Facebook posts, and other social networking platforms.
“Last week, we were mentioned 389 times in news stories,” Walker told Business Insider. “Now imagine gathering that for two years. I mean, it would’ve taken a U-Haul truck.”
In a follow-up, Walker also said that the IRS asked for a roster of the group’s board of directors and whether it could see any of those members ever pursuing higher office.
“How are you supposed to answer that question for the future?” Walker said. “They don’t issue crystal balls when you sign up for the Waco Tea Party.”
Both Walker and Niger Innis, the chief strategist for the group TheTeaParty.net, said they would consider legal challenges against the IRS. Both groups accused the IRS of drying up their donor base, while incurring thousands of dollars in travel costs and hundreds of hours in manpower to try to figure out how to respond to the IRS.
“Donors dry up, and then people don’t want to be associated with it,” Walker said. “They don’t want the IRS to come after them and audit them. Then, they want to back away from the organisation because of that.
“It kind of makes you the blacksheep.”
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