Somewhat after the fact, the Department of the Treasury's Inspector General for Tax Administration released its report detailing the "inappropriate criteria" used by the IRS to filter applications for non-profit status. Or, in English: here's why the IRS apologized to the Tea Party last Friday. But it owes an apology to a lot of other groups, too.
The somewhat cryptic apology — in which the IRS' Lois Lerner, director of the Exempt Organizations Division, explained that an office in Cincinnati had used a shortcut that paid undue attention to Tea Party groups — was fleshed out over the next few days. But it was the imminent release of the inspector general's report that likely prompted Lerner to say any thing at all.
It wasn't only the issue with the Tea Party groups that is featured in the final document, though that's obviously the primary motivator for the political response. And the IG makes clear that media attention to the concerns of conservative applicants for status as a 501(c)(4) non-profit led members of Congress to demand an investigation. In total, the IG report recommends nine different improvements for the IRS to follow, all aimed at speeding and clarifying the process of approving such applications. Until those changes are made, it says in its introductory memo, "we do not consider the concerns in this report to be resolved."
The concerns are threefold. The first is that IRS employees established an unfair process for flagging applications for additional review. The second is that the review process itself took an exceptionally long time. The third is that requests for additional information from applicants was handled improperly.
President Obama issued a statement after reviewing the report, saying its "findings are intolerable and inexcusable."