PDT Staff Writer
The Ohio House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee this week conducted a field hearing on House Concurrent Resolution 27, sponsored by Rep. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) and Rep. Dale Mallory (D-Cincinnati) regarding the politicization of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and targeting of Ohioans.
The Resolution reads - whereas, A recent report issued by the federal Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“Inspector General”) found that, beginning in 2010, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) developed and used inappropriate criteria to review the applications of organizations applying for tax-exempt status; and whereas, Such criteria were based on the political names or policy positions of the applicant organizations; for example, the IRS asked employees to give additional scrutiny to applications from groups whose name included “Tea Party” or other “political-sounding” words; and whereas, The Inspector General found that organizations that applied for tax-exempt status and had their application flagged for further review experienced substantial delays and were asked to supply unnecessary information; and whereas, According to the Inspector General, the IRS should take corrective actions to ensure that applications are processed without unreasonable delay in a fair and impartial manner in the future; now therefore be it resolved, that we, the members of the 130th General Assembly of the State of Ohio, urge the IRS to take immediate action to correct its policies and cease targeting organizations applying for tax-exempt status based on the organization’s political affiliation; and be it further.
Chairman Mike Dovilla (R-Berea) released the following statement and key findings of the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee:
“Our committee extended an open invitation to all Ohioans who believe they were targeted by the IRS, regardless of personal political affiliation or inferred organizational association, and we are thankful many Ohioans volunteered to testify.
“Some observers have asked why we would take an Ohio House committee on the road and spend time discussing a federal agency. No one explained this better than Rep. Mallory during his sponsor testimony when he said this issue is a black eye for his region and the State of Ohio. To think that for months national news focused on Cincinnati as the focal point of abuse of government power inflicted upon ordinary citizens is troubling - and quite frankly an embarrassment to the good people of Cincinnati and our great state.”
“Our Republic has a federalist form of representative government, and state legislatures must continue to play an important role in the discourse on public policy issues, including those that take place at the federal level. Our committee will continue to ensure government is accountable to hardworking Ohioans,” Johnson said. “I am glad that we were able to hear from the folks in Cincinnati and throughout the state who were targeted by the IRS.”
Dovilla said several people spoke of their experiences of being singled-out.
Marion Bower, the President of American PAGE, testified the IRS took an inordinate amount of time, over two years and six months, for the IRS to reach a final determination regarding their application. According to IRS documents submitted by Bower, in comparison to documents submitted by other groups, IRS agents were provided with much leeway in the writing of questionnaires. Under penalty of perjury, Bower was provided a list of activities her group could be engaged in as determined by an IRS agent, and was expected the total percentage of time and resources to add up to 100 percent. Answering honestly, one activity was listed twice, and Bower received a second questionnaire scolding her that the sum of her responses did not add up to 100 percent, forcing her to resubmit the questionnaire.
Justin Binik-Thomas was personally singled out in an IRS questionnaire to the Liberty Township Tea Party. Binik-Thomas had no personal, professional, or volunteer relationship with the aforementioned group and did not reside in the vicinity of the aforementioned group. Upon contacting the IRS Taxpayer Advocate, with a copy of the questionnaire, the Taxpayer Advocate provided two responses for Binik-Thomas. The first informed Binik-Thomas that the IRS did not ask questions pertaining to individuals. The second informed Binik-Thomas that due to privacy laws the IRS could not divulge any information about questions related to Binik-Thomas.
Tim Savaglio, Board Member of the Liberty County TEA Party, applied for tax exempt status in May 2010. Over three years later, the organization’s request is still outstanding. Savaglio’s organization received two questionnaires, with the first questionnaire composed of more than 90 separate entries for more detailed information.
“Such a powerful entity must have the highest respect for the American people, who are its masters. The Obama administration, which is fully responsible for the actions of this agency, must ensure that it is fully and transparently accountable to the American people, including making the results of its investigation known to all, as well as the disciplinary actions and punishments of those involved,” Johnson said. “We must root this out and be satisfied that it will never happen again.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.