Nightly News   |  May 13, 2013

IRS began targeting political groups in 2010

A draft report by the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration reveals that in March 2010, IRS employees began scrutinizing applications with the words “Tea Party” and “patriots.” NBC’s Lisa Myers reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening. in plain english the irs isn't popular to begin with. they go after our money and collect our taxes. when it looks like they are going after certain people, when the irs is used as a political tool because of the politics of groups or individuals, that isn't fair or legal. and that's the issue currently enveloping the irs . the president today talked about the allegation that certain groups, especially those tied to the tea party might have received special scrutiny because of their politics. it's just one front the white house is dealing with. it's where we begin here tonight with nbc's lisa myers in our d.c. newsroom. lee is is a, good evening.

>> reporter: brian, good evening to you. a draft report obtained by nbc news shows the targeting of conservative groups for special scrutiny began earlier than the irs has admitted and suggested a senior irs official was told what was going on almost two years ago. today the president joined the chorus of bipartisan outrage.

>> i've got no patience with it. i will not tolerate it. we'll make sure we find out exactly what happened on this.

>> reporter: a timeline in the draft report by an inspector genre veals in march 2010 career employees at an irs unit based in cincinnati that oversees tax exempt groups began scrutinizing applications with the words tea party and patriots. in january 2011 targeting included groups concerned about government spending , debt and those who criticized how the country is being run. that august a senior irs official, the chief counsel, is briefed so everyone would have the latest information. as the presidential campaign heated up in january 2012 , the criteria was revised to cover all groups involved in limiting or expanding government or educating on the constitution. about then tea party groups complained publically about being treated unfairly by the irs . and the irs stopped letters requesting more information. in march, the irs commissioner assured congress the complaintscomplaints were unfounded.

>> there is absolutely no targeting. this is the kind of back and forth that happens when people apply for 501-c-4 status.

>> reporter: not until last week did the irs admit certain groups were targeted. in all 300 applications were singled out for further scrutiny. how could this happen? a former irs official.

>> safeguards were removed that would have greatly reduced the possibility of this sort of situation.

>> reporter: republicans say congress must do its own investigation.

>> it's hard for me to believe that this is an idea that was hatched by just a couple of career employees of the irs .

>> reporter: now the irs still isn't saying whether anyone has been fired or why it waited so long to come clean. a senior republican sayses the agency was, at best, far from forthcoming and, at worst, deliberately dishonest with congress. brian?

>> thanks. lisa myers starting us off in d.c.