Veteran IRS Official Testifies That Targeting Goes Up to Washington

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 18: Internal Revenue Service Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division revenue agent Elizabeth Hofacre (L) and retired IRS tax law specialist Carter Hull are sworn in before testifying to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill July 18, 2013 in Washington, DC. Credit: Getty Images 

Veteran IRS official Carter Hull testified on Thursday that officials from a Washington office, led by a political appointee, was directly involved in the screening of Tea Party applications.

Hull admitted for the first time publicly that the IRS chief counsel’s office was involved in the political targeting. He provided his account of the IRS scandal during testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday.

Hull, a recently retired tax law specialist, was a target of Congress’ investigation into the IRS scandal after an employee in Cincinnati told lawmakers that he had been overseeing her review of applications of Tea Party groups. However, Hull has since revealed that he was also receiving marching orders from those above him.

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Hull specifically said he was told to forward documents to an adviser for embattled IRS official Lois Lerner — who first revealed the targeting of Tea Party groups and has since refused to answer lawmakers’ questions. But Hull said he was then told to send documents to the Office of Chief Counsel for their review — which is led by political appointee William Wilkins.

At an August 2011 meeting, Hull said, someone from the chief counsel’s office said additional information was needed from Tea Party applicants that Hull was dealing with, and that a second letter should be sent out requesting more information.

These letters have since been cited by Tea Party groups as part of a drawn-out process that in some cases left them without any resolution for years

In his testimony, Hull called the multi-layer agency review “unusual.”

There were times when applications would get stuck in Cincinnati because he was waiting for instructions from the chief counsel’s office.

“I was waiting for word from chief counsel as to how to proceed,” Hull testified.

Hull said on multiple occasions that he was never told specifically not to approve applications but that after meetings with the chief counsel’s office, applications were taken out of his control and forwarded for “further review.” He said this type of action is “rare.”

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) seemingly came to the aid of the IRS, saying that the IRS chief counsel’s office can sometimes be involved in that process.

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