Outgoing IRS commish grilled by Congress

Outgoing IRS commish grilled by Congress

Outgoing IRS Commissioner Steven Miller apologized Friday on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service for unfairly targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, but said “partisanship” was not the reason for the agency’s practices.

“First and foremost, as acting commissioner, I want to apologize on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service,” Miller said before a House Ways and Means Committee hearing.

The IRS is under fire for placing heavier scrutiny on organizations with words like “tea party” or “patriots” in their name when they applied for nonprofit status between 2010 and 2012, according to a report unveiled this week by the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration.

Miller, who at the time was deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, went on to say in his brief opening statement that “foolish mistakes were made” in the handling of the applications.

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“I do not believe that partisanship motivated the people that engaged in the practices described in the inspector general’s report,” Miller said. “Foolish mistakes were made by people who were trying to be more efficient in their work.”

Sitting next to Miller at the hearing, Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George testified that in his investigation he “did not” find evidence that the agency’s decisions were motivated by politics.

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