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IRS review of Tea Party scrutiny in 2012 found bias: U.S. Republicans

By Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Internal Revenue Service in 2012 reviewed allegations that conservative Tea Party groups had come under extra scrutiny by the tax service's agents and found bias against conservatives, Republican members of Congress said on Tuesday.

"At no point did you or anyone else at IRS inform Congress of the results of these findings," Republican Darrell Issa, chairman of the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote in a letter to Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS' tax exempt organizations unit.

Lerner publicly apologized about the extra scrutiny on Friday at a conference, setting off a storm of controversy.

Republicans probing the IRS scrutiny said the tax agency's officials informed them of the 2012 review in a meeting on Monday.

IRS officials also told Republicans that 471 groups had been placed under additional scrutiny as part of the agency's process, Issa said, citing the meeting.

"It is unclear whether conservative and Tea Party groups are continuing to be targeted even today," Issa said in the letter.

Issa, whose committee has subpoena power, requested a list of documents from the IRS related to his panel's probe.

The U.S. Treasury's Inspector General for Tax Administration is expected soon to issue a report on the allegations of bias against conservatives.

(Reporting by Kim Dixon and Richard Cowan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Christopher Wilson)

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