Dave Johnson via Crooks and Liars has a very good summation of the nothingburger that is the IRS “scandal.” I recommend you read it before responding to your whacky uncle who watches Fox News all day and gets excited when Sarah Palin updates her Facebook page.
Fact: The IRS is required to determine whether organizations applying for special tax status are “social welfare” groups or are instead engaged in political activity. Political groups cannot get the special tax status these groups were applying for.
Fact: Only one-third of the groups that were passed to specialists for a closer look were “conservative.” Lots of other organizations were also checked, including progressive organizations.
Fact: No groups were audited or harassed or “targeted” or “singled out.” This was about applications for special tax status being forwarded to specialists for a closer look to see if they were engaged in political activity that would disqualify them for the special tax status. This closer look is the kind of review all organization should get, but the IRS was swamped because of the flood of groups applying for a status that let them mask their donors, after Citizens United.
Fact: No groups were harmed. There were delays while the groups were checked to see if they should have special tax status. That’s it. But the rules are that they are allowed to operate as if they had that status while they waited for official approval.
Fact: The only groups actually denied special tax status were progressive groups, not conservative groups. In 2011, during the period that “conservative groups were targeted” the New York Times carried the story, 3 Groups Denied Break by I.R.S. Are Named . The three groups? Drum roll … “The I.R.S. denied tax exemption to the groups — Emerge Nevada, Emerge Maine and Emerge Massachusetts — because, the agency wrote in denial letters, they were set up specifically to cultivate Democratic candidates.”
Fact: The IRS commissioner in charge at the IRS at the time this happened was appointed President George W. Bush.
Fact: According to the inspector general’s report (p. 10) in the “majority of cases, we agreed that the applications submitted included indications of significant political campaign intervention.”
Now you can go on to something more important, like the one about Obama causing the tornado in Oklahoma because it’s a red state.