As bad as the IRS made it for many tea party groups seeking tax exempt status, conservative organizations apparently at least one progressive group claims it was singled out by the IRS. Officials of Progress Texas, a liberal group in the Lonestar state, said they too were hassled by the IRS. Progress Texas said they were given a lengthy, intrusive questionnaire, and that it took 479 days to win approval.
"Progress Texas and the Tea Party strongly disagree on the role of government," PT executive director Ed Espinoza told Slate. "Yet, when we applied for tax-exempt status, Progress Texas received the same type of additional scrutiny that Tea Party groups are complaining about. The similar treatment indicates the IRS was likely addressing a flood of 501c4 applications after [the Supreme Court ruling on] Citizens United." - Read the questionnaire here
OBAMA OUSTS ACTING IRS CHIEF Internal Revenue Service acting commissioner Steven Miller was forced to resign on Wednesday, amid the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the actions taken by the IRS to target conservative groups. “Americans are right to be angry about it, and I’m angry about it,” President Obama told reporters Wednesday night, adding that he “will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has.”
Miller said he plans to leave the IRS in early June. He is scheduled to testify Friday before the House Ways and Means Committee regarding the IRS’ controversial activities. - Read more at The Fiscal Times
ANOTHER BAD AUDIT FOR THE IRS “A new report from the Government Accountability Office released early this week says the Internal Revenue Service must improve its internal controls to save millions of tax dollars,” The Fiscal Times’ Brianna Ehley wrote. “The report shows that little oversight at the IRS has led to erroneous refunds sent to dead taxpayers, millions of extra tax credits mistakenly allocated to the Highway Trust Fund and major miscalculations of how much the agency is owed in unpaid taxes, among other issues.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times
IRS CLOSES OFFICES FOR FIVE FURLOUGH DAYS IRS officials announced Wednesday that the agency will close its offices for five required furlough days on May 24, June 14, July 5, July 22, and Aug. 30. That includes all toll-free hotlines, the Taxpayer Advocate Service and the agency’s nearly 400 taxpayer assistance centers nationwide. IRS said it may announce “one or two additional furlough days” at a later date. - Read the announcement here
FED STOPS SECURITIES SALES TO AVERT DEBT CEILING The federal government on Friday will temporarily suspend sales of U.S. Treasury securities to state and local governments to avoid hitting the $16.39 trillion debt ceiling, Treasury officials announced Wednesday. The national borrowing limit is expected to be breached May 18, though Treasury can keep the government operating for several months by resorting to extraordinary measures. Just last week, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that the government can likely stave off default until Labor Day at the earliest. - Read more at Marketwatch
FARM BILL GAINS MOMENTUM The House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday night approved a sweeping $940 billion farm bill that would trim the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program used by one in every seven Americans by $2.5 billion a year. The bill would eliminate an eligibility category that mandates automatic food stamp benefits when people enroll in certain programs. The bill is expected to be debated on the House floor in June. The Senate Agriculture Committee also passed its version of the farm bill on Tuesday, with the full Senate expected to take it up next week. The sudden movement on the two bills enhances the prospects that Congress will pass major farm legislation for the first time since 2008. The last piece of farm legislation was extended until Sept 30. - Read more at The New York Times
IF THE DEFICIT IS SHRINKING DO WE NEED THE SEQUESTER? “New Congressional Budget Office projections this week showed substantial shrinkage in the federal budget deficit, which could alter the need for automatic across the board spending cuts this year and beyond,” The Fiscal Times’ Eric Pianin writes.
“The deficit has topped $1 trillion a year since the recession ended four year ago, but will plummet to about $642 billion, or 4 percent of the gross domestic product, in the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30, according to the CBO report. That’s about $200 billion lower than the non-partisan budget agency projected just three months ago—and nearly three times the $85 billion of across the board defense and domestic spending cuts that were mandated this year under sequestration.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times