Three Years Later, IRS Approves Tax-Exempt Status for Two Conservative Groups

Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel J. Scott Applewhite/AP

In the week before the government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service announced progress in processing the backlog of long-delayed applications for tax-exempt status, including the approval of requests from two conservative groups most vocal in this year’s scandal over the agency’s alleged targeting of right-leaning activists.

The group called TheTeaParty.net was told on Monday that, after a three-year wait, the IRS Exempt Organizations Division was approving its 501(c)4 tax-exempt status, the Washington Examiner reported. "After four years battling Lois Lerner's shock troops, we are relieved that the IRS has relented and finally recognized our right to operate as a non-profit,” said Todd Cefaratti, founder of TheTeaParty.net. “First they tried to ignore us. Then they tried to discredit us. And then they tried to deny our legal rights. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end to a sad chapter in our government’s targeting of its own citizens.”

Ten days earlier, the IRS offered the election-fraud activist group True the Vote the 501(c)3 status it too had sought for three years. The decision was part of a motion by IRS and the Justice Department to dismiss a broader lawsuit on privacy and civil rights brought by True the Vote. “While it’s true the IRS scandal has taken a good bit of our focus, we are still developing and refining programs, creating new online tools, and gearing up for 2014,” the group said on its website. Its lawsuit continues.

The IRS, which is being led on an acting basis by Danny Werfel, on Sept. 24 released an update on its progress on enacting the nine recommendations made in a May audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration that prompted the political imbroglio. Nearly all the changes, many involving new training, have been completed or slated for completion by early 2014. “As of September 19, 2013, 93 cases in the original backlog (70 percent) have been closed,” the report said. “This includes 72 cases that received favorable determination letters including 37 applicants participating in the optional expedited process. All eligible organizations in the original backlog have been contacted and provided an opportunity for expedited processing.”

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