Steven Miller, the ousted acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) apologized on behalf of the agency for the poor service and mistakes it committed during a Congressional hearing. Miller also denied allegations that he misled Americans and partisanship motivations for the IRS officials for their inappropriate action, which is currently under investigation.
“First and foremost, as acting commissioner, I want to apologize on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service. Partisanship or even the perception of partisanship has no place at the IRS. It cannot even appear to be a consideration in determining the tax exemption of an organization,” said Miller.
He admitted that the IRS conducted inappropriate practices in assessing tax-exempt applications. However, he strongly rejected the idea that the agency’s officials were motivated by their political motives. He described their actions as “foolish mistakes.”
Miller said, “I do not believe that partisanship motivated the people who engaged in the practices described in the treasury inspector general’s report. I think that what happened here was that foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient in their workload selection.
He acknowledged that the listing described in the report was intolerable, but he reiterated that it was a mistake and not an act of partisanship. Miller also emphasized that he answered questions “truthfully” regarding the issue.
“I did not mislead Congress or the American people. I answered the questions as they were asked,” said Miller. Furthermore, he denied that the IRS has a targeting policy.
Last year, former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman testified in Congress regarding the agency’s policy in dealing with tax-exempt applications. Shulman did not mention in his testimony that the agency’s scrutiny on the applications of conservative groups is more intensive.
Miller explained that the IRS put the politically active organizations together in one class to ensure consistency and quality, but he did not mention that the groups were targeted for higher scrutiny based on their political affiliations.
Miller pointed out, “It was incorrect, but whether it was untruthful or not—look, when you talk about targeting … it’s a pejorative term. What happened here is that someone saw some tea party cases come through. They were acknowledging that they were going to be engaged in politics. This was the time frame in 2010 when Citizens United was out. There was a lot of discussion in the system about the use of (c)(4)s. People in Cincinnati decided, “Let’s start grouping these cases. Let’s centralize these cases.”
The House Ways and Means Committee is investigating the the alleged targeting policy of the IRS on Friday. Miller together with J. Russel George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) answered the questions of legislators.
Republican Congressman and Committee Chairman Dave Camp alleged that the Obama Administration is practicing a “culture of cover-ups and intimidation.” President Barack Obama repeatedly condemned the discriminatory practices of the IRS and promised that any official found responsible for the mistake will be held accountable.