Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller has quit his post over the IRS investigation on conservative groups after receiving an ultimatum from the Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. The scandal erupted last week after the IRS admitted to putting the tax cases of various conservative political and nonprofit organizations such as the tea party and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse under extra scrutiny.
The entire affair was highlighted by the Treasury Inspector General on Tax Administration’s (TIGTA’s) report on the IRS' targeting of conservative groups. President Obama reviewed the report and found that the "misconduct" by the IRS was "inexcusable", prompting the President to say, "Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it. I 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 into all of our lives. The IRS has to operate with absolute integrity."
As a result, the Treasury secretary asked Miller to step down, to which he duly complied. President Obama commented, “It's important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward". At the same time, the President gave his assurance that the Treasury will adopt new measures to "make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again" and that the IRS would begin implementing the TIGTA's recommendations immediately.
The investigations on the conservative groups began last year when the then IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman was still in charge of the agency and Miller was the Deputy Commissioner in charge of the division responsible.
In his report, the TIGTA said that the fault in this matter lied on "ineffective management" in the IRS. The report concluded that IRS managers had followed "inappropriate criteria" in dealing with tax cases resulting in "substantial delays" in processing applications for tax-exempt status, and made requests for "unnecessary information" such as lists of donors.
The “ineffective management” also includes following the criteria used by the IRS Determinations Unit to flag cases for audit. The TIGTA said the criteria were having words like "Tea Party", "Patriots" and "9/12" in their names or manifestos that focused on the government's fiscal policy and educating the public to "make America a better place to live" or criticized how the country was being run.
The IRS denied that the action to scrutinize conservative groups was influenced by any third party individual or group outside the IRS.