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Roane Tea Party group says it was targeted by IRS

10:38 PM, May 14, 2013   |    comments
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(WBIR- Kingston) An East Tennessee Tea Party member will head to Washington D.C. Wednesday to speak about his dealings with the IRS.

The Tea Party Patriots organization invited Roane County Tea Party Co-Chairman Greg Johnston to join them at the Capitol.

Johnston said his group has tried to get a 501 (c)(4) tax status since January 2010. He said for two years, the IRS reported no progress on the group's filing. Then, one day, everything changed.

"They sent us this four-page question embedded with 22 questions on it, and embedded in each question was about five or six more questions and they were extremely intrusive," he said.

An accountant told the group not to answer all the questions. Johnston agreed.

But, the IRS continued to send forms with extra questions. Johnston said it persisted all the way up until December 2012 when he told the agency to stop harassing his Tea Party.

"We aren't going to play this game anymore, we're done," he said.

The IRS eventually gave the Roane County Tea Party a tax-exempt status in April, just two weeks before word of the national scandal broke.

"They've known what they've been doing to the Tea Parties and they decided we better start sending these out," he said.

The Gannett Washington Bureau said the IRS' goal for processing tax-exempt applications is roughly four months. It took the Roane County Tea Party more than two years to get approved.

The House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a hearing on the issue for Friday. The Justice Department is also opening a criminal investigation into the IRS for targeting Tea Party groups.

Attorney General Eric Holder called the practice "outrageous and unacceptable". A government watchdog is blaming ineffective management.

10News reached out to the IRS for comment, but it did not reply.

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