Internal Revenue Service employees in Ohio, who singled out conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny, likely did not consider the political implications, an IRS official in Washington has told congressional investigators. Providing additional details about the worst crisis to hit the IRS in years, tax agency official Holly Paz told investigators she was concerned when she learned that IRS employees were singling out groups with “Tea Party” and other key words in their names. Paz is the most senior IRS official to be extensively interviewed by investigators. Ousted acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller was among the top-level Washington officials grilled by Congress in recent weeks. Investigators conducted longer transcribed interviews with IRS employees behind closed doors.
A mid-level official in Washington before she was put on administrative leave, Paz worked for the director of the tax-exempt unit.
Paz said she was worried the practice of flagging certain groups for scrutiny, which she said was not politically motivated, “might give the impression that there was … some bias,” Paz said in the interview last month. Reuters has reviewed the interview transcript.
Some IRS employees in Cincinnati were screening non-profit groups’ applications for tax-exempt status and chose some applications from Tea Party-aligned groups for closer scrutiny.
In doing so, Paz said, the employees likely did not consider that their decisions and practices could be perceived as politically motivated. “They are not as sensitive as we would like them to be as to how things might appear,” she said.