Judge orders IRS to pay penance to conservative non-profits, but it’s not required to admit guilt

After years of being stonewalled by the Obama administration, the hundreds of Tea Party groups that were targeted by the Internal Revenue Service in 2013 for political purposes finally received justice Wednesday when U.S. District Judge Michael R. Barrett approved a multimillion-dollar settlement.

Although the settlement doesn’t include an admission of guilt by the IRS, it does force the agency to finally pay penance by forking over $3.5 million total to the hundreds of conservative non-profit that were unfairly targeted for intense scrutiny after applying for tax-exempt status.

“It shows that when a government agency desires to target citizens based on their viewpoints, a price will be paid,” Edward Greim, the attorney who led the class-action suit against the IRS, said to The Washington Times.

It was not until October of 2017, nine months after President Donald Trump took office, that the federal government finally agreed to settle the Tea Party groups’ complaint.

Wednesday’s ruling also marks the first time the IRS has ever agreed to pay for its transgressions: “I’m not frankly aware of any other class action lawsuit against the IRS for anything where the IRS paid money,” Citizens for Self Governance president Mark Meckler, who funded the lawsuit, said.

When asked whether the IRS might ever target non-profits over political purposes again, he said, “I’m a hundred percent certain it could happen again.”

That certainly could be possible, given as Obama-era IRS commissioner John Koskinen failed to reform the agency, as noted by the New York Post editorial board in a blistering op-ed two years ago.

“Koskinen was supposed to ‘fix’ the IRS after the scandal erupted over targeting conservatives. Yet his real purpose seemed to be running interference, covering up information and shielding the agency (and Team Obama) from consequences,” the board wrote.

As the commissioner of the IRS, Koskiken also made no attempts to bring former IRS official Lois Lerner to justice for the pivotal role she played in the agency’s targeting of conservative organizations.

Instead he seemed to stonewall, always trotting out one excuse or another — such as his claim that Lerner’s emails had gone missing — only to later be shown to be a liar.

Since late 2017, attorney Davis Kautter has been serving as the acting commissioner of the IRS. It’s unlikely he’s taken any steps to fix the agency’s problems, since he’s not meant to permanently replace Koskinen but hold the seat until an official replacement has been assigned.

The official replacement is to be Beverly Hills tax attorney Charles Rettig, who was nominated to the post earlier this year but still remained unconfirmed as of August. As someone who’s previously defended clients against the IRS’s tax fraud investigations, he may just be the perfect person to fix the ailing agency.

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