Washington (dpa) - The Internal Revenue Service admitted Friday
that it treated some groups associated with the anti-tax Tea Party
with additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status as
The US tax authority said it singled out conservative groups with "tea party" or "patriot" in their names during the 2012 presidential election campaign season.
Lois Lerner, director of tax exempt organizations for the IRS, said career employees of the agency subjected the groups to further examination based solely on their names.
"They didn't do it correctly," Lerner said Friday in Washington, according to Bloomberg news. "We would like to apologize for that."
The agency, however, said its actions weren't politically motivated.
The Tea Party is a conservative political movement that advocates reducing government spending and taxes. Its name is derived from the Boston Tea Party of 1773, a protest against British tax policies.
Tea Party groups complained last year that they were required to provide an inordinate amount of information when they applied for tax-exempt status.
White House spokesman Jay Carney called the IRS's actions "inappropriate." He said he understood the matter to be under investigation by the inspector general at the IRS.
"We would fully expect the investigation to be thorough and for corrections to be made," Carney said.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called on President Barack Obama to investigate. Referring to the practices as "thuggish," he said Americans must be assured that they aren't common in government operations.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the House would investigate.
"The IRS cannot target or intimidate any individual or organization based on their political beliefs," Cantor, a Virginia Republican, said in a statement.
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