The tea party scandal, combined with Congress systematically stripping the IRS of resources and clout over decades, has led to an exempt organizations division that has all but quit regulating politically active nonprofits in any consistent, demonstrable way, a six-month Center for Public Integrity investigation reveals.
The investigation, which involved a review of thousands of pages of IRS documents and interviews with more than two dozen current and former IRS employees and administrators, finds the agency’s nonprofit regulation division has:
Bled 14 percent of its staff positions during the past two decades while the number of nonprofits it regulates has grown by more than 40 percent.
Scaled back inquiries, as the number of nonprofit group tax returns investigated recently fell by 10 percent, from 11,699 in 2011 to 10,575 last year. Applications for “social welfare” nonprofit status jumped 27 percent from 1,777 to 2,253 during the same time.
Reduced the number of denials for exempt status for social welfare nonprofits from nearly 4 percent during the early 1980s to less than a quarter-percent in 2013.
Softened, tabled or reversed course on at least a dozen proposed policy positions or enforcement plans after criticism from politicians and lobbyists.