Werfel back in hot seat
By Vicki Needham - 06/26/13 06:00 PM ET
THURSDAY'S BIG STORY:
My, that's a toasty seat: Internal Revenue Service acting director Danny Werfel will get another turn in the hot seat on Thursday to chat with lawmakers about the revelations in his 30-day review of the agency, the details of which hit with a thud on Monday.
As it turns out, the IRS was still improperly screening groups seeking tax-exempt status when Werfel took over in May — about two weeks after the targeting actions were revealed.
Top congressional Democrats have argued that the agency also singled out liberal groups by putting them on the "be on the lookout" lists it used to flag applications that needed more attention.
Werfel said he has suspended use of those so-called BOLO lists.
Lawmakers are sure to remind Werfel that they will be watching the agency's progress and will call him back for updates.
President Obama appointed Werfel last month and ordered the review after the IRS acknowledged the extra scrutiny.
On Wednesday, a government watchdog said that IRS officials did not have enough guidance in reviewing applications for tax-exempt status.
Nina Olson, the national taxpayer advocate, said the agency had violated a number of taxpayer rights in its targeting efforts.
Olson blamed managerial problems and what she calls a “cultural difficulty” between the taxpayer advocate and the exempt organization division for the targeting. Her recommendations include the IRS posting its procedures online, and allowing up to $1,000 in compensation to aggrieved groups.
But the taxpayer advocate said that the “crisis” at the agency is far broader than just the targeting of Tea Party groups.
“The real crisis facing the IRS — and therefore taxpayers — is a radically transformed mission coupled with inadequate funding to accomplish that mission,” Olson said in a statement accompanying her mid-year report.
“As a consequence of this crisis, the IRS gives limited consideration to taxpayer rights or fundamental tax administration principles as it struggles to get its job done.”