Justice Department opens criminal probe of IRS treatment of tea party groups

BY ALISTAIR M. NEVIUS, J.D.

At a press conference in Washington on Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department has opened a criminal probe of the IRS and its reported scrutiny of tax-exemption requests by groups with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their names. “The FBI is coordinating with the Justice Department to see if any laws were broken,” he said.

Holder’s announcement of the Justice Department investigation comes after reports that a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) audit found that the IRS was scrutinizing other groups, including ones that were concerned about government spending, debt, and taxes. That TIGTA report is expected to be made public this week. Holder said, of the IRS’s alleged actions, that “if not criminal, they were certainly outrageous and unacceptable, and we are examining the facts to see if there were criminal violations.”

Alistair M. Nevius ( anevius@aicpa.org ) is the JofA’s editor-in-chief, tax.

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