The National Rifle Association is the target of a major audit by the Internal Revenue Service, which is expected to review whether the nonprofit organization has improperly deducted income from sales of health insurance and bank credit cards, according to current and former NRA officials.
The audit, at a time when the group has been aggressively criticizing federal law enforcement agents, will also examine reports that the NRA used tax-deductible donations to a charitable affiliates to make contributions to political candidates.
The NRA said in a statement yesterday that it believed "no intentional errors and no structural deficiencies will be found."
Leaders of the group have told its members that a team of IRS auditors will begin working at the organization's Fairfax, Va., headquarters in the next few weeks.
NRA leaders have called the audit revenge by the Clinton administration for the group's support of Republican congressional candidates last year and for the group's efforts to repeal the ban on assault weapons.
An IRS spokesman, Wilson Fadely, said that by law he could neither confirm nor deny the audit, which was first disclosed in by the Boston Globe, with further details in the Washington Post on Tuesday.
In a separate development, Max Goodwin, chairman of the NRA's financial committee, confirmed that he had resigned but denied reports from some dissident members that he had quit because of disputes with staff members over access to information about the group's finances.
The NRA, despite a rapidly growing membership, which is now at 3.5 million, ran a deficit of $21.6 million in 1993 and $2.8 million in 1994.
Mr. Goodwin, reached by telephone in Mesa, Colo., said he had resigned because "I just don't have the time." He is a retired executive of Adolph Coors Co.