Still another article in The Post [“House GOP bills intended to push White House on scandals,” The Fed Page, July 10] used the phrase “the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative political groups.”
Notwithstanding IRS official Lois Lerner’s disastrous and inexplicable “admission” to the contrary, there has been no evidence yet adduced that the IRS “targeted” conservative groups. To the contrary, the facts so far tell us that the IRS’s exempt organizations division did exactly what it is supposed to do. It must attempt to implement properly a 100-year-old provision of the tax code that requires the service to differentiate between organizations that are primarily “social welfare” organizations, hence properly exempt under the statute, from ones that are primarily political — conservative or not — and hence not exempt.
Regrettably, repeated use of phrases such as “targeting conservative organizations” and “IRS scandal” implants those notions in the public consciousness, and subsequent revelations are unlikely to change that. The only scandal is the way the news media leap on incomplete “facts” and parrot unsupported accusationsto churn controversy. Good people’s jobs and reputations have already been damaged, if not destroyed. Words matter. But then you don’t need me to tell you that.
The writer is a retired branch chief of the exempt organizations division of the Internal Revenue Service.