In an op-ed in USA Today on May 14, Steven Miller wrote:
“We sought to centralize work in this area in 2010 because our office of Exempt Organizations observed a sharp increase in the number of section 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) applications coming from groups potentially engaged in political campaign intervention,” Miller wrote. “Between 2010 and 2012, the number of applications for 501(c)(4) status more than doubled, from 1,591 to 3,398.”
It was important for the IRS to carefully review those organizations’ applications, Miller argued, because “the law limits and in some cases prohibits political intervention by exempt organizations.” Still, he said, the “way we initially centralized” those cases for review “did not” make sense.
Miller repeated the same claim during the hearings.
The number of applications was not the cause of the targeting – it’s a straw man.
If you go to page 3 of the IG report, you will see that there was no glut of applications for tax-exempt status in 2010 when the targeting began. In 2009, the IRS received 1751 applications for 501(c)(4) status and in 2010, they received 1735, a decrease of 16 applications. The increase in applications came in 2011.