Steven Miller, who is being forced out as acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, told House lawmakers today that the IRS has learned from its mistakes while denying that it had targeted nonprofit groups for review because of their political views. Under persistent questioning from House Republicans at the first hearing on the agency’s scrutiny of small-government groups that applied for tax-exempt status, Miller insisted that IRS employees didn’t have partisan motivations. “What happened here is that foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient,” Miller said at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing that lasted almost four hours.
Lawmakers peppered Miller with questions, demanding that he explain why he didn’t inform Congress once he learned in May 2012 about what had happened. Republicans expressed frustration with Miller’s answers, at times interrupting him.
“You’re arguing today that the IRS is not corrupt,” Representative Peter Roskam, an Illinois Republican, said to Miller. “But the subtext of that is you’re saying, we’re just incompetent. And I think it’s a perilous pathway to go down.”
Miller, while maintaining that the agency didn’t target the groups for attention, acknowledged errors in how the IRS handled the applications.
“I can say generally, we provided horrible customer service here,” he said. “I will admit that, we did horrible customer service.” Questioning grew more critical as the hearing progressed. “This is offensive to hear this testimony,’’ Representative Tom Reed, a New York Republican, told Miller.