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Nicholas Confessore/Twitter Nicholas Confessore/Twitter  

501(c)(4) applications lower when IRS began targeting conservatives

Photo of Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

Despite claims that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was under seige by a flood of new tax-exempt applications from nonprofit political groups in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, the number of 501(c)(4) applications to the IRS actually dropped around the time the IRS began targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny.

The IRS received 1,735 applications from groups seeking 501(c)(4) nonprofit status in fiscal year 2010, 16 less than the 1,751 applications it received in fiscal year 2009, according to a report released by the Treasury Inspector General.

IRS targeting of conservative groups began in February 2010, in the fifth month of fiscal year 2010.

Embattled IRS official Lois Lerner, head of the agency’s tax-exempt division, said, “between 2010 and 2012, we started seeing a very big uptick in the number of 501(c)(4) applications we were receiving, and many of these organizations applying more than doubled, about 1500 in 2010 and over 3400 in 2012.”

Lerner’s claim received four “Pinocchios” for untruthfulness from Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler Monday.

The New York Times was criticized for describing a “Flood of Applications” the IRS received in the aftermath of Citizens United, including from groups seeking 501(c)(4) status, which requires groups to promote “social welfare.”

The Times reported that “hundreds of new applications began to arrive from Tea Party and other organizations” in an article Saturday that merely accused the infamous IRS Cincinnati office of “confusion” and “staff troubles.”

“The Times joins the IRS and the Obama Administration in telling a false history designed to both excuse IRS targeting tea party groups and to push a partisan agenda to restrict political speech,” wrote Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment.

New York Times reporter Nick Confessore tweeted, “(c)4 applications level from 09-10. They jump in ’11, when long questionnaires go out,” in reply to Kerpen’s criticism. 501(c)(4) applications between fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2011 increased by 530, to 2,265, according to the IG report.

“Not sure volume is a real factor either way,” Confessore added.

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