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Suits begin in wake of IRS undue scrutiny scandal

It's hard to remember when the Internal Revenue Service has been so much in the spotlight of public scrutiny. And it appears that the likelihood is that it is only going to get more intense in the weeks and months ahead.

The federal court in Washington, D.C., is beginning to see lawsuits coming through the door in the wake of the revelation that some IRS employees have been making groups suspected of having ties with conservative political organizations jump through more bureaucratic hoops than usual to get tax exempt status.

The litigation involving the IRS appears to be coming from various points of the spectrum. Among one of the first suits to be filed this week was from the group calling itself True the Vote. The Houston-based voter integrity watchdog group is asking the court to grant it's applied-for status as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. It is also seeking more than $85,000 in damages.

In its suit, the group alleges that the IRS and its employees repeatedly demanded that it provide unnecessary information regarding its operations and affiliations. It says that the requests for data stemmed from a perception that it is affiliated with conservative political activity. The suit was filed on behalf of the group by the conservative ActRight Legal Foundation.

True the Vote has had an affiliation with a group called the King Street Patriots, a tea party group since 2010. In August of 2011, it changed its name and sought the charitable group tax-exempt status. There have been claims that the group has attempted to intimidate minority voters at polling places in some states, but the group says its sole purpose is to promote election integrity.

Meanwhile, in the same federal court, the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed suit this week. It's claim is that regulations related to the IRS oversight of requests for 501(c)(4) political organization designations are unmanageable. It wants the court to force the agency to issue public guidelines about what it takes to qualify for that status.

Source: The Washington Post, "Conservative group True the Vote sues IRS over being subject to heightened scrutiny," Juliet Eilperin, May 21, 2013

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