Report: Liberal groups passed through IRS process while tea party groups waited

While Tea Party groups waited years for tax-exempt approval from the Internal Revenue Service, organizations with liberal-sounding names went through the process relatively easily.

According to a review of IRS data conducted by USA Today, groups with names like “Progress” or “Progressive,” engaged in similar activities as the conservative seeking tax-exemption, had their applications reviewed and approved in as little as nine months. (Related: IRS official Lerner speedily approved exemption for Obama brother’s ‘charity’)

The liberal groups sought the same 501(c)(4) status as tea party groups, seeking exemption on the basis of being social welfare groups.

USA Today reports that the groups approved in 2011 include “Bus for Progress” whose mission includes “support progressive politicians with the courage to speak the truth, serve the people’s interests and make tough choices;” “Progress Florida” whose mission focuses on “promoting progressive values”; and “Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment” whose executive director told USA Today that the group is “on the progressive end of the spectrum.”

While some liberal groups were held up for inquiries they eventually received their tax-exempt status in the midst of the tea party blackout, USA Today noted.

It took “Action for a Progressive Future” 18 months and inquiries to get their tax-exempt status, something its co-founder Jeff Cohen told USA Today he didn’t mind responding to for the privilege of getting a tax exemption. But he believes it was unfair to target groups he disagrees with politically.

“From my perspective, if the IRS can hold up legitimate tea party applications today and get away with it, then who knows if progressive groups will be held up and specially scrutinized in a few years,” Cohen said. “It’s utterly unacceptable, if that’s what happened.”

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