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May 17, 2013 11:30 PM by Tony Spehar - tspehar@koaa.com

Colorado Springs ministry claims they were targeted by the IRS

A local Christian ministry is claiming they were targeted by the Internal Revenue Service which is under fire after allegations that applications for tax exempt status from conservative organizations were purposefully delayed starting in 2010.

Family Talk Action is headquarted in Colorado Springs, it was founded by Dr. James Dobson but has no connection to Focus on the Family. The ministry provides Christ-oriented advice to families through radio broadcasts and other means.

In September of 2011 Vice President Ryan Dobson said the organization filed to be granted 501(c)(4) tax exempt status, they were already considered a 501(c)(3) organization.

"(c)(3) status says we don't talk about politics, we don't talk about issues, things like that," Dobson explained. "The 501(c)(4) allows us to do so, it's explicitly designed for that purpose."

Basically, in order for Family Talk to be able to discuss politics and their view on issues and stay tax exempt they needed to be granted 501(c)(4) status. Six-months after filing their application they received what they call strange requests from the IRS.

"They started asking us very odd questions," Dobson described. "They wanted to know what our political opinions are, if we teach both sides of the story."

Dobson said none of the questions asked by the IRS had any bearing on the application for 501(c)(4) status because the status is designed for organizations that take partisan positions.

Nearly two-years later, in March of 2013, Family Talk's attorney contacted an IRS agent for an update on the status of their application.

"She says I'm gonna recommend they deny it," Dobson claimed. "She said you seem like a partisan group, you're right wing, you're not educational."

Dobson explained that shortly after Family Talk Action threatened legal action over the denial their application was approved.

It wasn't until allegations came out that the IRS may have done the same thing to hundreds of other conservative groups that Dobson thought that his organization was specifically targeted for their conservative politics.

The IRS is accused of delaying tax exempt status applications from Tea Party groups and other organizations as well as asking for donor lists and goals. An investigation by the Treasury Inspector General's Office revealed major problems in how the IRS dealt with some conservative groups.

"The IRS used inappropriate criteria to target for review Tea Party and other organizations based on their name and policy positions," Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George told a congressional panel on Friday.

In testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday outgoing IRS Commissioner Steven Miller said the IRS had made mistakes but the delays in processing applications were about trying to increase efficiency and not political.

"I can say generally we provided horrible customer service here, I will admit that, we did, horrible customer service," Miller testified. "Whether it was politically motivated or not is a very different question."

Republican lawmakers and Ryan Dobson remain skeptical as, so far, it appears no liberal groups were targeted.

"The rule of law has to apply equally to everyone," Dobson said. "You cannot single people out like this."

Republicans and Democrats said on Friday the investigation into the IRS scandal is just beginning.

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