WASHINGTON Jan 17 The inspector general of the
U.S. Internal Revenue Service is slated to get a budget increase
in 2014, but the tax-collecting agency itself will get less
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
(TIGTA), which oversees the IRS, will get $156 million for the
year, a 2.6 percent funding increase, under a U.S. congressional
budget pact passed this week.
But the IRS budget is set to decline by about 4 percent to
$11.3 billion under the same agreement.
What explains the stark difference in treatment by the U.S.
To hear some Republicans tell it, the answer goes back to
mid-2013, when TIGTA played a key role in investigating the
agency's handling of applications for tax-exempt status
submitted by certain conservative political groups.
TIGTA "helped expose wrongdoing, consequences are
appropriate - budgets included," said Republican Darrell Issa,
chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee,
which has been investigating the IRS, said in an e-mailed
statement to Reuters on Friday.
TIGTA audits IRS activities and also provides armed escorts
to IRS employees when they need to face dangerous taxpayers.
The IRS's most embarrassing episode in many years began in
May when a senior agency executive publicly apologized for what
she described as inappropriate scrutiny of the applications from
groups aligned with the Tea Party conservative movement.
Angry Republicans immediately launched investigations, as
did the FBI. The chief of the IRS stepped down and several
highly publicized congressional hearings followed. A frequent
witness at these sessions was TIGTA chief J. Russell George,
whose inquiries produced sharp criticism of the IRS.
Republicans praised George - also a Republican, appointed by
former President George W. Bush - for his actions, but some
Democrats blasted him after the IRS revealed that it had given
extra scrutiny to some liberal-leaning groups, as well.
By September, Republican attempts to link the IRS decisions
to the White House had failed and the scandal faded from view,
but it left behind a fiscal impact.
During the budget-writing process, "there was an effort to
punish the IRS," said a Republican tax lobbyist.
At the same time, lawmakers eager to probe the IRS thought,
"let's make sure TIGTA has enough people," said the lobbyist,
who spoke anonymously to describe the budget deal.
President Barack Obama was expected to sign the budget into
law by Saturday.
(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Richard Chang)