The Internal Revenue Service has “apologized” for harassing patriot and Tea Party groups, the Associated Press reports today.
The political groups were inappropriately flagged for additional reviews during the 2012 election to determine if they were in violation of their tax-exempt status. The IRS searched for the words “patriot” and “tea party” in applications.
Lois Lerner, who oversees the IRS unit on tax-exempt groups, said the federal government tax agency had singled out patriot groups for special treatment after complaints the agency asked the groups an inordinate number of questions to justify their tax-exempt status.
The harassment is reminiscent of COINTELPRO tactics used by the government. Beginning in the late 1950s, the FBI enlisted the IRS to conduct selective tax audits of political organizations and individuals, including civil rights leader Martin Luther King.