The Washington Post

How many nonprofits’ applications are still caught in IRS limbo? Nobody knows.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building stands in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington, D.C. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

This week, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) has been seeking an answer to a straightforward question: How many 501(c)(4) groups which came under heightened Internal Revenue Service scrutiny are still awaiting a decision on their applications for tax-exempt status?

During a hearing Monday before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel told Yoder that 132 groups were "overdue," meaning they had been pending for at least 120 days. But on Tuesday, the IRS told The Post that 236 groups had been seeking tax-exempt status as 501(c)(4)s for more than 200 days.

Yoder sent a letter to Werfel on Wednesday asking him to explain the discrepancy, noting that two former senior IRS officials, tax-exempt organizations division head Lois G. Lerner and former acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller, indicated that this was a problem of the past.

Miller, for example, told USA Today last month that the agency had "fixed the problem last year" and had "made significant progress is moving the centralized cases through [its] system."

"As the new Commissioner, I call on you to keep the promise you made to our committee to restore faith in the IRS," Yoder wrote. "Please close this shameful chapter in your agency's history by rendering determinations for these 236 groups by June 17, 2013."

The IRS did not respond to a request for comment.

Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.



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