UPDATE (5/17): The day this story broke, one week ago, it struck me as odd and troubling that the IRS revealed the news at an ABA conference. I had private correspondence about that over the weekend and made a post on May 11th and then made this post a couple of days ago. Today, it was confirmed in testimony that, indeed, the original revelation was very carefully crafted with a planted question delivered at the ABA conference by a private practice lawyer who had ties to the IRS. That is awful. (Think about that: it means that a private practice lawyer was drawn into the machinations before the Congress or the President was informed of the facts. To whom does the IRS owe its duties of disclosure if not the Congress and the President?) The IRS not only gave false information to the Congress, concealed the facts from Congress, and worked to suppress the falsity of its answer, but also carefully crafted a way of announcing the facts only when they could no longer keep them concealed. What follow is the post I previously made.
I earlier asked why the IRS announced their error at an ABA conference, of all places. Recall that the Congress of the United States had on several occasions asked about this issue and had received "exculpatory no" answers from the IRS. And note that the IRS knew the Inspector's report was soon to be released. One would imagine that within the IRS there was a lot of careful thought about when/where to release the information without confessing to serious error. According to news accounts, the big revelation was made in response in a fairly ordinary question-and-answer session at an ABA conference. Trying to bury the answer that way shows consciousness of guilt, in my view.
Reuters is now reporting that Congress is asking the same question. The intuition that prompted my original question: a candid, truthful answer is not flattering to the IRS, to say the least. That's the problem with not wanting to come clean. You're at the bottom of a hole and you feel you have to keep digging. I assume that at some point someone (or two) inside the IRS will decide to stop digging. The IRS should have offered its mea culpa first to the Congress.
UPDATE: Rick Cohen at NPQ asks the same question.
[edited since original posting]