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IRS chief to submit 30-day report on agency next week

By Tom Cohen, CNN
updated 6:54 PM EDT, Fri June 21, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A House committee will hold a hearing Thursday on the report
  • The White House says a review of the IRS will be done by the end of June
  • Temporary IRS chief Werfel was given 30 days to complete the report
  • GOP Sen. McConnell says the administration seeks to stifle opponents

Washington (CNN) -- A comprehensive review of the Internal Revenue Service by the agency's temporary leader will be completed by the end of the month, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday.

The White House ordered the review by 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 technically made it due by Friday. He told a congressional hearing on June 3 that he would finish the report by the end of the month.

"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.

An IRS spokesperson said Friday that the understanding all along was that the report would be completed by the end of the month, taking into account the Memorial Day holiday and furlough days at the agency due to forced cuts in government spending.

The House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a hearing for Thursday on the report, with Werfel as the lone witness, the GOP-led panel announced this week.

The targeting scandal and a separate inspector general's report that documented wasteful spending on IRS conferences in past years have led to 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."

CNNMoney's Jennifer Liberto and CNN's Ashley Killough and Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

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