The IRS is still targeting tea party groups for illegal scrutiny by refusing to process applications that have been pending for years, a federal court said in a ruling made public Friday, ordering the tax agency to quit stalling.
U.S. District Judge Michael R. Barrett said the IRS can still either approve or deny the Texas Patriots Tea Party’s application for nonprofit status, but the agency can no longer sit on its hands. And he said the IRS must give the application an honest evaluation without prejudice stemming from the yearslong targeting.
In a series of stark findings, Judge Barrett ruled that the IRS did in fact single tea party groups out for special scrutiny because of their political viewpoints in opposition to President Obama — undercutting congressional Democrats who said liberal groups faced the same level of targeting.
“The evidence strongly suggests that the IRS initiated the delay because TPTP’s application was perceived at the screening stage to be a Tea Party case,” Judge Barrett, whose courtroom is in Ohio, said in an opinion that was filed earlier under seal, and was only made public after parts of the 29-page ruling were redacted.