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Politics & Government

PA Senators Wait for Answers from IRS

Members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee will put their questions to the IRS acting commissioner Tuesday, and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey says he wants to know who first authorized extra scrutiny of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.

The ranking Republican and Democrat on the committee sent a letter last week to acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller asking 41 questions.

The letter refers to an inspector general's report that found improper screening of groups began in 2010, stopped in 2011, and then began again early in 2012.

Toomey said he wants to know who authorized the IRS to single out groups that applied for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status based on the presence of conservative indicators in their titles - like "Tea Party" and "patriot."

"It goes to the heart of the question of whether the American people can trust the government that's supposed to be serving it," Toomey told reporters Monday.

He said he's not sure how many Pennsylvania-based groups that applied for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status were subjected to lengthy IRS inquiries. But the senator added he isn't interested in the issue for partisan reasons. He said he would be equally outraged if liberal organizations were on the receiving end of unfair scrutiny from the IRS.

"Their obligation is to be even-handed," Toomey said. "We trust them with way too much sensitive information for them to be abusing it this way."

Pennsylvania's Democratic Senator, Bob Casey, is also on the panel set to hear from Miller. Casey is asking federal officials to follow the recommendations of the inspector general's report on the improper targeting.