Timeline of the IRS Targeting Scandal

America’s least favorite agency began scrutinizing groups applying for non-profit status using politically biased criteria in March of 2010. This timeline looks at activities by officials, agencies, and outside groups involved in the scandal.

2008-04-29 13:11:08

Rep. Chris Van Hollen

U.S. Representative Van Hollen asks Lois Lerner to investigate Freedom’s Watch.

2009-02-03 04:25:50


FEC asks IRS for information on tax-exempt applications

2009-05-13 04:25:50

Obama Jokes About Having IRS Audit Enemies

President Barack Obama jokes about having the IRS audit enemies at an Arizona State University commencement speech.

2010-01-21 04:25:50

Citizens United

The Supreme Court rules in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

2010-01-21 04:25:50

Grayson Compares Citizens United to Dred Scott Decision

In an interview with Mother Jones, Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) labels the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision “the worst Supreme Court decision since the Dred Scott case.

2010-01-23 04:25:50

Obama Blasts Citizens United Decision in Weekly Radio Address

In his weekly radio address, President Obama harshly criticizes the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United.

2010-01-26 15:26:05

Media Matters

Media Matters founder David Brock explains how it will use disclosure information to its political advantage

2010-01-27 15:26:05

President Obama

Obama criticizes the Supreme Court for its ruling in Citizens United

2010-02-11 15:26:05

Disclose Act

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announces his intention to introduce a proposal known as the DISCLOSE Act

2010-02-18 04:25:50

IRS Announces Greater Scrutiny of Tax-Exempts at Conference

IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner and IRS official Nikole Flax speak at the 46th Annual Washington Non-Profit Legal & Tax Conference in Washington, D.C., where Flax announces the Agency’s new program to scrutinize applicants for tax-exempt status.

2010-03-01 15:26:05


IRS starts targeting groups of a conservative political orientation applying for tax-exempt status.

2010-04-29 15:26:05


Rep. Chris Van Hollen introduces the House version of the DISCLOSE Act

2010-05-01 04:25:50

Obama Criticizes Groups with "Benign-Seeming Names" in Weekly Address

In his weekly address to the American public, President Barack Obama criticizes “groups with benign-seeming names sponsoring television commercials that make accusations and assertions designed to influence the public debate and sway voters’ minds.”

2010-06-24 15:26:05


The DISCLOSE Act passes the House of Representatives 219-206

2010-07-01 15:26:05

True The Vote Investigation

Multiple Executive agencies investigate True The Vote.

2010-07-21 15:26:05


Senator Chuck Schumer formally introduces the DISCLOSE Act

2010-07-26 15:26:05

Obama Urges Senate to Pass DISCLOSE Act

In remarks to reporters on the eve of a vote in the Senate on the DISCLOSE Act, the President urges Senators to vote in favor of the DISCLOSE Act as a remedy to the protections for free speech guaranteed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

2010-07-27 15:26:05


DISCLOSE Act fails its first vote in the Senate

2010-07-28 04:25:50

Target Boycotted Over PAC Donation

Target Corp. donates $150,000 to MN Forward, a pro-business PAC running ads in support of Republican Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who has traditional views on marriage. The disclosure of the donation sparks pro-gay marriage groups to organize Target customers to boycott the chain.

2010-08-09 15:26:05

President Obama

President Barack Obama singles out Americans for Prosperity

2010-08-11 15:26:05

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sends an e-mail warning

2010-08-21 15:26:05

President Obama

President Obama's radio address focuses on “attack ads run by shadowy groups"

2010-08-23 15:26:05

New York Times

The New York Times echoes White House Accusations, language

2010-08-27 04:25:50

DCCC Files Complaint Alleging AFP Foundation is Violating its (c)(3) Status

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) files a complaint with the IRS requesting an investigation into the tax status of the 501(c)(3) group, Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF).

2010-08-27 15:26:05

White House

White House economist Austan Goolsbee accuses Koch industries of not paying taxes

2010-08-31 04:25:50

Lerner E-Mails IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Commissioner Ingram Saying IRS Needs Plan to Deal with AFP

Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner e-mails IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Commissioner Sarah Hall Ingram in reference to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee complaint to the IRS about the activities of Americans for Prosperity.

2010-09-02 15:26:05

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee decry "right-wing shadow groups.”

The DCCC warns on its website that the Koch’s have “funneled their money into right-wing shadow groups.”

2010-09-16 15:26:05

President Obama

Obama repeats that a “foreign-controlled entity” might be funding attack ads.

2010-09-21 15:26:05

White House

“Senior administration official” urges journalists to write on conservative organizations

2010-09-22 15:26:05

President Obama

Obama repeats claim that conservative organizations are "foreign-controlled"

2010-09-23 15:26:05

White House

David Axelrod calls conservative organizations “front groups for foreign-controlled companies.”

2010-09-23 15:26:05


S. 3628 dies in the Senate

2010-09-28 15:26:05

President Obama

President Barack Obama says conservative groups are "posing" as non-profits

2010-09-28 15:26:05

Sen. Max Baucus

Senator Max Baucus asks IRS to investigate nonprofits, citing “recent media reports”

2010-10-05 15:26:05

Letter to IRS

Campaign Legal Center, and Democracy 21 write first joint letter to the IRS.

2010-10-08 15:26:05

IRS Meets with DOJ Staff About Possible Investigation of 501(c) Organizations

IRS employees, including Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner, meet with Department of Justice Public Integrity Section personnel to discuss the “evolving legal landscape” of campaign finance law.

2010-10-10 04:25:50

Obama Claims Citizens United Decision Permits Undisclosed Foreign Spending in Elections at DNC Rally

At a Democratic National Committee rally in Philadelphia, President Obama incorrectly accuses the Citizens United decision of permitting undisclosed foreign money into U.S. elections.

2010-10-11 15:26:05

Durbin Asks IRS to Investigate Crossroads GPS

Sen. Dick Durbin asks the IRS to examine Crossroads GPS.

2010-10-12 04:25:50

Senator Durbin's Office E-Mails IRS Staff to Emphasize Congressional Disapproval of (c)(4) Activity

A staff member for Senator Dick Durbin e-mails IRS Chief of Staff Jonathan Davis, emphasizing that other members of Congress besides Senator Durbin had also requested an investigation of Crossroads GPS and other nonprofits.

2010-10-13 04:25:50

Public Citizen Files FEC Complaint Over Crossroads GPS

Two organizations who advocate for greater regulation of political speech, Public Citizen and Protect our Elections, file a complaint with the FEC, alleging that Crossroads GPS is violating federal election law.

2010-10-14 15:26:05

President Obama

Mr. Obama calls conservative nonprofit groups “a problem for democracy.”

2010-10-19 04:25:50

Lois Lerner Admits Pressure

Then-Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, Lois Lerner, acknowledges at a Duke University panel that “everybody is screaming at [the IRS] right now” to stop spending by nonprofit groups. Lerner informs the audience: “I won’t know until I look at their 990s next year whether they have done more than their primary activity as political or not. So I can’t do anything right now.”

2010-10-20 00:00:00

Public Citizen

Group demands IRS and FEC investigate of American Future Fund

2010-10-22 15:26:05

President Obama

The President slams those who “hide behind these front groups.”

2010-10-25 15:26:05

President Obama

The President calls these non-profits a “threat to our democracy.”

2010-10-26 15:26:05

President Obama

Mr. Obama decries groups engaged in “unsupervised spending.”

2011-02-01 22:08:24

Lerner Calls Tea Party Matter Dangerous

In an e-mail to senior members of her staff, IRS Director of Exempt Organizations, Lois Lerner, warns her staff that the “Tea Party Matter [is] very dangerous."

2011-02-17 13:11:49

IRS Commissioner Shulman Reponds to Senator Baucus's Request for IRS to Investigate Certain Nonprofits

IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman responds to a letter from Senator Max Baucus requesting a survey of 501(c) organizations “to ensure that political campaign activity is not [an] organization’s primary activity.”

2011-03-24 04:25:50

DCCC Launches Website to Expose Donors to Crossroads GPS

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launches a new website, wikipocrisy.org, featuring a database of all Crossroads GPS' donors.

2011-04-20 15:26:05

President Obama

Obama mulling Executive Order requiring government contractors to disclose their donations to politically active organizations

Timeline of the IRS Targeting Scandal

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