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House Republicans: IRS documents show bias against conservatives

A general view of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Building in Washington, May 14, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A general view of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Building in Washington, May 14, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House of Representatives Republicans on Tuesday said an analysis of treatment of tax-exempt groups by the Internal Revenue Service showed conservative groups faced harsher scrutiny, a claim Democrats challenged.

Republicans on the House Ways and Means committee said their analysis of internal IRS documents shows that groups whose name includes the phrases "conservative," "Tea Party" or "Patriot" received much more scrutiny than groups containing the word "progressive."

The analysis said conservative groups were asked three times as many questions on average than progressives and less than half of conservative groups received approval, while all progressive groups were approved.

Committee Chairman Dave Camp, a Republican from Michigan, said the analysis was just the "tip of the iceberg" as the committee had received less than 3 percent of the documents requested.

Representative Sander Levin, the top Democrat on the committee criticized the Republican analysis, saying it offered an unspecified and unverified subset of tax-exemption applications to which only Republican committee members have access.

Controversy erupted on May 10 when an IRS official apologized for added scrutiny and delay given to Tea Party and other conservative groups seeking tax exemptions under a section of the tax code that allows limited political activity.

(Reporting by Deborah Charles; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

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