House panel to formally question IRS commissioner Friday

The House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a formal hearing Friday to probe the Internal Revenue Service for placing heavier scrutiny on conservative groups that applied for nonprofit status between 2010 and 2012.

IRS Commissioner Steve Miller and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George are expected to testify Friday morning during the hearing, which committee leaders said would examine the agency's "practice of targeting applicants for tax-exempt status based on political leanings."

The IRS last week apologized for targeting groups that advocate for limited government by requiring them to fulfill onerous requirements before receiving tax-exempt status. A report from the inspector general detailing the agency's practices is expected to be published later this week.

"News that the agency admits it targeted American taxpayers based on politics is both astounding and appalling," said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, in a written statement. "The Committee on Ways and Means will get to the bottom of this practice and ensure it never takes place again.”

President Barack Obama addressed the IRS' behavior during a brief press conference Monday, calling it, if true, "outrageous."

"If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous, and there is no place for it," Obama said. "You don't want the IRS ever being perceived to be biased and anything less than neutral in terms of how they operate."

In March 2012, former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman twice denied that the IRS had targeted conservative groups when pressed during hearings before the Financial Services and the Ways and Means Oversight subcommittees. Shulman's term ended in November 2012, when the current commissioner, Miller, was appointed. In an interview with the National Review's Robert Costa on Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Miller to resign.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Friday on Capitol Hill. Miller and George are the panel's only two witnesses.