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UPDATE: Acting IRS chief says it wasn't about politics

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Posted at 4:46 PM, May 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-17 16:46:00-04

WASHINGTON (AP) — The ousted head of the IRS is apologizing for the extra scrutiny given to conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

But Steven Miller told the House Ways and Means Committee today that singling out tea party and other groups "was a mistake and not an act of partisanship." He describes it as a misguided effort to handle a flood of applications.

But Republicans on the panel made it clear they want IRS officials to pay a bigger price. Even though Miller and another top IRS official are stepping down, Republican committee chairman Dave Camp of Michigan said that wouldn't be enough. He said it's not a "personnel problem" -- but instead a problem of "the IRS being too large, too powerful, too intrusive and too abusive of honest, hardworking taxpayers."

At the same hearing, the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration said he is still investigating whether outside political pressure played a role.