ATLANTA — Leaders of two conservative political groups in Georgia say they say faced invasive questioning from the Internal Revenue Service.
In Georgia, leaders from the Woodstock-based Tea Party Patriots and the Cobb County-based Georgia Tea Party tell The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that IRS officials questioned them about their members, funding and political ties.
The groups were newly formed and applying for the 501(c)4 designation from the IRS as a tax-exempt “social welfare group.”
Debbie Dooley, a national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, said the IRS asked for information about her group’s donors, political ties and for such detailed information as screen shots of supporters’ comments on its Facebook page.
The group resisted handing over all that information, and Dooley said the ongoing legal dispute with the IRS has cost upward of $100,000.
“This is tyranny at its best,” Dooley said. “And groups on the left need to understand if the IRS gets away with this, it’s a matter of time before a Republican administration comes after them.”
J.D. Van Brink of Cobb County, the chairman of the Georgia Tea Party, said that in response to its request for 501(c)4 status his group received an IRS questionnaire that required “a thousand printed pages” to respond. Postage to send it back to the IRS cost $250, he said.
“Think of all the wasted time and effort that goes into the corporate income tax,” Van Brink said. “It’s corruption, is what it is, and it’s an abuse of power.”
Tax-exempt status was eventually granted to the Georgia Tea Party, Van Brink said.
In Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder said he ordered the FBI to investigate the nationwide scandal Friday — the day the IRS publicly acknowledged that it had singled out conservative groups.