IRS takes heat from both GOP, Dems over Tea Party groups’ tax-exempt status

The Internal Revenue Service is taking heat from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers for its oversight of certain groups engaging in political activity, in particular Tea Party organizations seeking tax-exempt status.

In recent weeks, GOP lawmakers have followed up with the agency over complaints from Tea Party groups that feel the IRS is unfairly targeting their applications for tax-exempt status.

But on the other end of the spectrum, some Democrats on Capitol Hill have been asserting that the IRS is not looking carefully enough at groups seeking a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) designation, a label given to organizations principally engaged in social welfare.

Doug Shulman, the IRS commissioner, defended his agency’s efforts during congressional hearings last week, stressing that the IRS prides itself on being nonpartisan and that the rules surrounding tax-exempt groups are complex.

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