Timeline of the IRS Scandal -- Pieced Together From Various Media Outlets

With all the reports coming in fast and furiously from different news agencies, here’s a pieced-together timeline of events. The information below is a timeline of events taken from numerous media outlets with their links provided.

Early 2010:
WSJ: The report [Inspector General’s report due out this week] indicates that in 2010 and 2011, some IRS workers weren’t just singling out groups because their names contained certain words, as IRS officials suggested on Friday [May 12], but appeared to be probing for indications of political interests or leanings.

March 2010:
Washington Post: The IRS targeted We the People, Take Back the Country, and 9/12, a group founded by political commentator Glenn Beck, starting around March 2010, according to a TIGTA timeline provided to congressional staff.

Also in 2010:
Jewish Press: the passionately pro-Israel organization Z STREET filed a lawsuit against the IRS, claiming it had been told by an IRS agent that because the organization was “connected to Israel,” its application for tax-exempt status would receive additional scrutiny. This admission was made in response to a query about the lengthy reveiw of Z STREET’s tax exempt status application.

In addition, the IRS agent told a Z STREET representative that the applications of some of those Israel-related organizations have been assigned to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies”

March 2011:

WaPo: The report is being prepared at the request of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which asked in March 2011 for an audit of the IRS’s tax-exempt unit amid complaints from conservative groups who were seeking tax-exempt status.

Mid 2011:

WSJ: The investigation also revealed that a high-ranking IRS official knew as early as mid-2011 that conservative groups were being inappropriately targeted—nearly a year before then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told a congressional committee the agency wasn’t targeting conservative groups.

June 2011
WSJ: According to the report, by June 2011 some IRS specialists were probing applications using the following criteria: “issues include government spending, government debt or taxes; education of the public by advocacy/lobbying to ‘make America a better place to live’; statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run.”

June 29, 2011
AP: 2011: Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, said last week that the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias.

But on June 29, 2011, Lerner learned at a meeting that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog’s report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with “Tea Party,” `’Patriot” or “9/12 Project” in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report says.

July 2011
WaPo The IRS switched to more generic search criteria in July 2011 due to concerns from senior agency officials, the timeline said.


WSJ The report’s timeline indicates that the criteria were changed to be more neutral in July 2011 after Ms. Lerner “raised concerns.” The criteria for heightened scrutiny continued to evolve over the next year or so, even as complaints from tea-party groups—and questions from GOP lawmakers—mounted over IRS inquiries to various groups about their activities.

Late 2011 – Mid 2012
WaPo: The IRS made no mention of targeting conservative groups in five separate responses to congressional inquiries between Nov. 18, 2011, and June 15, 2012, according to the TIGTA timeline.

January 2012
Reuters But then [instruction] changed again in January 2012 to cover “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding government, educating on the constitution and bill of rights, social economic reform/movement,” according to the findings contained in a Treasury Department watchdog report”

March 2,2012
NRO reports on the American Center for Law and Justice’s (ACLJ) interaction with tea party groups which had been receiving missives from the IRS to find out more about their activities

March 2012
WSJ The IRS also said the report reflects that “IRS senior leadership was not aware of this level of specific details” at the time of a March 2012 hearing where Mr. Shulman denied any targeting of conservative groups. Mr. Shulman, who no longer works for the IRS, declined to comment”

April – May 2012
WSJ Letters from Ms. Lerner in April and May 2012 responding to questions by Republican lawmakers made no mention of the problems that had surfaced in the IRS unit.

According to the draft report, on April 24 and 25 of last year, officials in Ms. Lerner’s office were reviewing “troubling questions” that had been asked of organizations, including “the names of donors.”

Ms. Lerner’s April 26 {2012} letter to Mr. Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said that “there are instances where donor information may be needed…such as when the application presents possible issues of…private benefit.”

May 2012
Reuters The criteria for scrutiny were revised again to cover a variety of tax-exempt groups “with indicators of significant amounts of political campaign intervention (raising questions as to exempt purpose and/or excess private benefit),” according to a TIGTA timeline included in the findings.

Other Factoids:

WaPo: Lerner said that about 75 groups were selected for extra inquiry — including, in some cases, improper requests for the names of donors, but added that the targeting was not driven by partisan motives.

AP: The report also said that the IRS asked “unnecessary questions” of conservative groups, according to the aide.The IRS’ Lerner said that about 300 groups were singled out for additional review, with about one-quarter scrutinized because they had “tea party” or “patriot” somewhere in their applications. She said 150 of the cases have been closed and no group had its tax-exempt status revoked, though some withdrew their applications.

The Anatomy of an IRS Process:

The Richmond Tea Party has been blogging about their interactions with the IRS since they began their IRS status request on December 28, 2009. Included in their reporting has dates and document links. You can read the overview here: and the chronicles of the Richmond Tea Party here

As more information comes out, I will update this timeline accordingly.

Crossposted at alanjoelny.com