Before there were the lost Lerner emails, the congressional hearings and the retaliatory budget cuts, there was the Albuquerque Tea Party, a group of politically minded folks in New Mexico who wanted to get together and share ideas for taking back their country. The IRS had other ideas about them.
Five years after the Albuquerque Tea Party applied for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, they remain in limbo — their application apparently no closer to being approved or denied than it was the day they mailed it to the IRS on Dec. 29, 2009.
They have watched as other groups have been approved in less time, and they say they are mystified as to why the application has been held up so long, after they provided hundreds of pages of evidence and documents that the IRS requested.
“If the IRS, with its massive staff, read only 1/2 of a page daily of all the paperwork we have had to send them, they could have read it all three years ago,” Rick Harbaugh, secretary of the board of the Albuquerque group, said in an email describing his group’s five-year battle with the tax agency.
Worse yet, he said, they still don’t know why they were targeted in the first place, and every explanation from the IRS — that the targeting was by low-level employees in Ohio, for example — has been wrong. Mr. Harbaugh said they have letters from the Treasury Department saying their file was being reviewed in Washington.
The targeting exploded onto front pages in May 2013 after Lois G. Lerner, head of a division charged with scrutinizing applications for tax-exempt status, planted a question at a law forum so she could break news of the activity.
She was trying to beat an inspector general’s report due out a few days later, which said the IRS singled out hundreds of conservative and tea party groups for intrusive scrutiny and refused to approve those applications, which had piled up for years.
By Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times –