Temporary IRS chief misses deadline for 30-day report on agency

IRS (CBS/NDN)

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The temporary head of the beleaguered Internal Revenue Service seems to have missed his first major deadline.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday that a comprehensive review of the tax agency due this week will be completed instead by the end of June.

The White House ordered the review by acting IRS leader Daniel Werfel when he started the job on May 22 in the aftermath of an inspector general’s audit that found targeting of some conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

Werfel was given 30 days to complete the review, which made it due by Friday.

“I think that Mr. Werfel has indicated that he would complete the review by the end of June, and we look forward to that completion,” Carney told reporters.

IRS officials refused to comment Friday on the report.

A hearing on Werfel’s report has been scheduled for Thursday by the House Ways and Means Committee, one of several congressional panels looking into the IRS controversy.

Werfel will be the lone witness at the hearing that will focus on the 30-day report, said a statement by the GOP-led committee.

The targeting scandal and a separate inspector general’s report that documented wasteful spending on IRS conferences in past years have launched a series of investigations of the tax collection agency by Congress, the Department of Justice, the tax administration inspector general’s office and Werfel.

The IRS admitted there was unfair targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status starting in 2010, but officials say the action was a bureaucratic shortcut in its Cincinnati office rather than an exercise of political bias.

In his report that disclosed the misconduct, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George said there was no evidence of a political motive. However, George is continuing to investigate the matter, along with the FBI and the congressional committees.

Republicans argue the controversy is proof that the administration and progressive groups have been trying to clamp down on those who disagree with the president’s agenda.

On Friday, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky cited the IRS targeting of some conservative groups as an example of what he called an Obama administration agenda to “stifle speech” and enact a “culture of intimidation.”

McConnell said he doesn’t believe President Barack Obama “actually picked up a phone and told someone over at the IRS to slow-walk those applications or audit anybody.”

“But the truth is, he didn’t have to,” McConnell added. “The message was clear enough.”

Asked later about McConnell’s comments, Carney noted the inspector general found no evidence of any outside involvement in the IRS targeting. The senator’s accusation, he said, is “demonstrably bogus.”