June 24, 2013 / 7:17 PM / in 5 years

IRS scraps "be on the lookout" lists at heart of Tea Party fracas

WASHINGTON, June 24 (Reuters) - The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has scrapped controversial screening lists used by the agency to scrutinize conservative and Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status, while offering a speedier path for stalled applications, the agency’s new chief said on Monday.

Use of the so-called “be on the lookout” lists (BOLO) using partisan names like “Tea Party” and “Patriot” to flag applications for more scrutiny were at the heart of a critical report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration issued on May 14.

Agency chief Danny Werfel reaffirmed the inspector general report’s finding that no employees or outsiders intentionally subjected Tea Party and other conservative groups to extra scrutiny.

“While fact gathering is still underway, we have not found evidence of intentional wrongdoing” by anyone outside or inside the IRS, Werfel told a conference call with reporters.

The IRS has been battling critics since May 10 when a senior official publicly apologized for the scrutiny, setting off a probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, resignations by top officials and congressional investigations.

In response to the incident, President Barack Obama last month fired then-acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller and ordered a 30-day review of the matter. At least three other IRS officials have been replaced or are on administrative leave.

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