WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Internal Revenue Service deliberately targeted groups with “tea party” in their names and who were applying for federal tax exempt status, delaying processing of their applications and requesting unnecessary information, according to an advance copy of a report by the agency’s inspector general obtained Tuesday by CNN.
The report found that for more than 18 months beginning in early 2010 the IRS developed and put in place a policy that used “inappropriate criteria” to identify potential political applications and then forwarded those applications to a team of specialists for review.
“The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention,” according to the report, obtained from a congressional source
As a result, substantial delays occurred in processing certain applications, and unnecessary information was requested, according to the report.
“Although the processing of some applications with potential significant political campaign intervention was started soon after receipt, no work was completed on the majority of these applications for 13 months,” the report said.
Of the 296 applications that were targeted for review as of December 17, 2012, 108 had been approved, 28 were withdrawn by the applicant and none had been denied.
Of those applications still open for review, 160 cases were open from 206 days to more than three years.
By Dana Bash and Chelsea J. Carter, CNN. CNN’s Josh Levs, Kevin Bohn, and Jake Tapper contributed to this report.