Updated 5:49 p.m. ET Friday 5/31
Washington (CNN) – The Internal Revenue Service has told House GOP investigators they have identified 88 IRS employees who may have documents relevant to the congressional investigation into targeting of conservative groups, according to a congressional source familiar with the investigation.
The IRS asked these employees to preserve all the "responsive documents" on their computers, and it has been in the process of collecting it all to comply with congressional requests for information. The IRS missed its May 21st deadline to turn over documents to the House Ways and Means Committee.
The same source said the IRS argues it missed its deadline because of the scope of documents it is collecting.
The request for documents was a bipartisan one, but Republicans are privately preparing to seize on the fact that if nearly 90 IRS employees may have been somehow involved in this targeting, it is evidence that the controversy extends well beyond the mistakes by a few low level employees.
However, with no documents in hand, there is no way to know how many of the employees being asked to preserve documents were truly involved in the activity in question. The IRS, in a statement to CNN, said the large number reflects its effort to ensure they are as responsive as possible to the Congressional requests.
"The IRS and Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel are moving aggressively and taking the data requests very seriously. As a precautionary measure, the IRS is casting a wide net to capture any potentially related materials. Our goal is to be exceedingly thorough during this process to ensure we identify any and all pertinent records," the IRS statement said. "The IRS has received numerous congressional requests involving an extensive set of questions and calls for data. Responding to these requests is a top priority for us. We have been in contact with committee staff, and we continue to provide them updates as we diligently work through these requests."
READ MORE: Did IRS chief really visit White House 157 times?
The IRS is responding to multiple Congressional requests for information and struggling to meet the deadlines. According to a Senate Finance Committee aide, the IRS told the committee it will also miss Friday's deadline to produce documents relevant to the tea party targeting.
In a joint statement from the press offices of Sens. Max Baucus and Orrin Hatch, the committee's Democratic chairman and its top Republican, said they were disappointed and that the agency needed to do better.
"This is an agency that revolves around making the American taxpayer meet hard deadlines each and every year when they file their taxes, oftentimes penalizing those that are late," the statement said.
READ MORE: House investigators questioning IRS Cincinnati workers
More problems are on the horizon for the IRS. Rep. Darrell Issa, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will hold a hearing next week on an audit of the agency's "spending culture and conference abuses."
The committee will focus on the report released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that shows excessive spending at IRS conferences.
Werfel said in a statement that the report will focus on an IRS conference that took place in 2010 and labeled it an "unfortunate vestige from a prior era."
"While there were legitimate reasons for holding the meeting, many of the expenses associated with it were inappropriate and should not have occurred," he said, adding new rules have been put in place and such a conference will not happen under his watch.
Kathy from Glendale, AZ – You are SO certain that nothing will be found, yet the IRS had admitted that conservative groups were wrongly targeted by their agents for additional scrutiny and penalizing delays. I guess is fine for you as a former IRS employee – maybe you used your role at the IRS to unfairly and unjustly penalize people as well.
The IRS has already admitted and apologized for targeting conservative groups, slow walking their applications for 501c3 status, they've audited conservative donors, had an "enemies list", Lerner takes the Fifth...This "witch hunt" has already found the cauldron and the broomstick, just looking now to see who the pointy hat fits.
In response to those who like to look at this as a witch hunt, WHY HAS NOT ONE SINGLE LIBERAL PROGRESSIVE GROUP that has complained of being audited or having their applications rejected or delayed???
A former IRS employee stated above that IRS employees " who didn't take their jobs seriously & follow IRS Codes & Regs to the letter of the law.".
Please get some history on this scandal. Lois Lerner has already said that the IRS has treated conservative causes UNEQUALLY in their quest to be granted tax-exempt status! This is not a GOP "witch hunt". Both the Democratic and Republican politicians in Congress agree that something "fishy" is going on here.
To all of you IRS apologists, there has already been admission of wrong doing. The IRS is trying to confine the shenanigans to three rogue IRS. Even if you confine it to the three what they did was against the principals of freedom in the US. So just be quiet and let the issue unfold.
how come lIbs are so quick to justify Gestapo tactics by Obama and his WH?
Why doesn't Mr Obama gather all the IRS people potentially involved into one big room and stand in front of them, broadcast live, and say I want all that were involved in this to raise your hand. Then go through, one by one, and ask them to say what happened and to tell us all who was in charge of it all and where it originated. What is he afraid of?
Nothing to see here, move along folks. Its all just a conspiracy from those evil tea party people. They are the real enemy here, not the terrorists.
Yea right.........bcrmmer & kathy...........nothing to see herr folks.......just move along! We all know "o" is behind all of this including the Benghazi mess where 4 Americans died!........Keep drinking the cool aid. Oh bcrmmer...Nothing came of it? Really........um does IMPEACHED clinton ring a bell just to start with?
BCRunner is typical of the left wing morons that voted for the Marxist tyrant Obama. Fools. Keep blaming Bush. You are a joke.
These folks need a life in prison trip. Send them to GITMO.
The IRS has already admitted to targeting conservative groups. The Republicans are just trying to find out how far up it went and what to do about it.
Absolutely, Kathy. None of this really happened to the conservative groups. Just a figment of our imaginations. Geeze!
The head of the IRS visited the White House 157 times. By far more than anyone else. What if the irs did this to liberlal non profits, under prior presidents of a different political stripe? There is no over reach going on here. And per usual the press is barely doing their job relative to this.
Kathy, how can you say that an IRS investigation will reveal that IRS employees did absolutely nothing wrong. This all started because Lois Lerner of the IRS admitted that the IRS targeted conservative and tea party groups seeking tax exemt status. In your 32 year history with IRS did you ever notice a rule that said the agency could single out any group for strictly political reasons? The "wrong" has already been admitted, and an apology issued. The only thing left to do is try and figure out how this happened, determine if any laws broken and how will the guilty parties be punished if illegal acts were perpetrated.
I worked with the IRS for 20 plus years. There are a lot of unscrupulous employees. I have seen employees sharing private data on returns, intentionally going after people they do not like, and lots of Congressional requests to go after certain people or groups. The employees who do not follow the orders, do not get the promotions. It is all about if I help you out you will help me out. The culture at the IRS is disgusting. The bad part is the IRS is good at covering their tracks. A lot of these employees do not leave paper trails. Their computer systems do not have adequate audit logs to know who is doing something illegal. I brought several information security breaches to the attention of management. The last one was for manager of under the deputy commission of operations support. Four weeks later, I got fired.
The totalitarian instincts of the socialist-democrat party is now being showcased for all to see. This is really just the tip of the iceberg. The entire federal bureaucracy is a pool of left wing, sewage and needs to be flushed out to sea.
Which hunt? They admitted to doing it. Sounds like the IRS is full of Libs. Hope the enjoy being left out in the cold after trying to keep there guy in office...while he stays in and they go out and collect welfare.
Kathy, AZ; You undercut your credibility and argument when you say IRS employees ALL follow the letter of the law. That is unbelievable when a taxpayer can get multiple conflicting answers for the same issue. What will your explanation be when it's confirmed there was wrong doing. Big Lois Lerner fan are you. I'm glad you're retired.
Wow, 88 "Lone Wolf"s.....
Where there is smoke, there is fire and it all seems to be popping up around the White House: Fast and Furious gun running to Mexico, Benghazi-Election misrepresentation, AP and Fox News intimidation, and most egregious is using the IRS for political purposes. If you look at the last three objectively, its an attempt to mislead the American People and silence those who oppose the propaganda...very very dangerous.
BCrunner; Clinton's impeachment was nothing. Re-writing history now. It was appropriate you used Nixo's words of denial. Why did the Obama's lose their law licenses. Not because of honesty and competence.
Kathy, When asked to expose that witch hunt, the IRS pleaded the 5th. Actions speak louder than words.
I see the first comment, by Cathy, as the basic and root clue as to how biased and revolting an employee can be. She can say that the people asking for answers are stupid nuts, reoublicans of course, but at the same time no-one should question the integrity of the people of the IRS. Arrogance has infested the entire Federal Government and is the seat of the tyranny being used against the citizens today. Unfortunately Cathy has destroyed her own defense of the IRS.
This IRS corruption is only the tip of the iceberg. The most corrupt period in US history, next to Lincoln's White House term, will now swiftly come to collapse through impeachment. Thankfully that will return the Republic to a Godly and moral control! Flush the sewer that is DC and kill off the complicit news outlets that enabled the foreign born imposter!