At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal…
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Quote of the Day: Taxpayer Privacy and IRS Abuse

At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains among our most important missions.  Among the abuses that we've chronicled is the case of convicted criminal Charles Littlejohn, who rejoined the IRS in 2017 with the specific purpose of illegally breaching and leaking the private tax returns of Donald Trump and other Americans to radical left-wing organizations like ProPublica.

In The Wall Street Journal this week, one of those victims speaks out on his own experience and the need for greater taxpayer protection against this recurring problem that should terrify all Americans of every political persuasion.  Ira Stoll, whose tax information was passed to ProPublica, even helpfully details how…[more]

May 29, 2024 • 11:28 AM

Liberty Update

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Federal Court Humiliates IRS in Conservative Groups' Lawsuit Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, March 31 2016
In reversing his initial promise to get to the bottom of this most sinister of scandals, Obama later claimed preposterously that there is 'not a smidgen of evidence' of IRS corruption. This latest humiliation by the judicial branch, however, establishes the contrary in its legal defense alone.

Americans outraged by Obama Administration and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) efforts to target and persecute conservative organizations just received a spring gift from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

By way of refresher, thousands of private organizations each year - charities, churches, political organizations, schools and other groups - apply to the IRS for non-profit, tax-exempt status.  Such applications are typically received and processed in unremarkable, routine manner. 

Beginning in 2010, however, the IRS began isolating and persecuting conservative and libertarian applicants, particularly groups with the words "patriot" or "Tea Party" in their names.  After now-disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner confessed to targeting such groups in May 2013, even an embarrassed Barack Obama claimed a sense of disgust, saying, "I've got no patience with it.  I will not tolerate it.  And we'll make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this." 

A subsequent Inspector General investigation determined that the IRS "developed and used inappropriate criteria to identify applications from organizations with 'Tea Party' in their names," and "expanded the criteria to inappropriately include organizations with other specific names or policy positions ... concerned with government spending, government debt or taxes," as well as groups "lobbying to 'make America a better place to live.'"  Officials at the IRS then created a "Be On the Lookout" (or "BOLO") list for targeted groups, referred them to a team of specialists where they "experienced significant delays and requests for unnecessary information." 

The Inspector General further found that, "many organizations had not received an approval or denial letter for more than two years after they submitted their applications.  Some cases have been open during two election cycles (2010 and 2012)."  The report also noted the adverse consequences of the IRS's persecution:  "This means that potential donors and grantors could be reluctant to provide donations or grants.  In addition, some organizations withdrew their applications and others may not have begun conducting planned charitable or social welfare work." 

Following release of the Inspector General's damning report, targeted organizations justifiably sued the IRS and individual IRS officials in federal court.  To that end, the plaintiffs sought basic records and information relevant to the case, but the IRS has since stonewalled at every turn. 

So much for Obama's promise to "make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this." 

Disgusted by the IRS's shenanigans, the district judge observed that, "It looks like everything in this case seems to be turning into an argument on discovery...  you're just running around in circles and not answering the questions." 

Undeterred, the IRS continued its abject obstructionism, which brought the district judge's patience to an end: 

My impression is the government probably did something wrong in this case.  Whether there's liability or not is a legal question.  However, I feel like the government is doing everything it possibly can to make this as complicated as it possibly can, to last as long as it possibly can, so that by the time there is a result, nobody is going to care except the plaintiffs. 

The judge therefore commanded production of the requested documents and evidence, but the IRS still refused and instead appealed the order to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which led to this week's embarrassing rebuke. 

The Court began by ominously observing that, "In this country taxpayer privacy has a checkered history."  After detailing some of that history and the equally checkered pattern of behavior by the IRS in this lawsuit, it unanimously affirmed the district court's production order because the law that the IRS used to withhold its own documents "was enacted to protect taxpayers from the IRS, not the IRS from taxpayers": 

In this lawsuit the IRS has only compounded the conduct that gave rise to it...  The lawsuit has progressed slowly as the underlying applications themselves:  at every turn the IRS has resisted the plaintiffs' requests for information regarding the IRS's treatment of the plaintiff class, eventually to the open frustration of the district court.  At issue here are IRS 'Be On the Lookout' lists of organizations allegedly targeted for unfavorable treatment because of their political beliefs.  Those organizations in turn make up the plaintiff class.  The district court ordered production of those lists, and did so again over an IRS motion to reconsider.  Yet, almost a year later, the IRS still has not complied with the court's orders.  Instead the IRS now seeks from this court a writ of mandamus, an extraordinary remedy reserved to correct only the clearest abuses of power by a district court.  We deny the petition. 

In reversing his initial promise to get to the bottom of this most sinister of scandals, Obama later claimed preposterously that there is "not a smidgen of evidence" of IRS corruption.  This latest humiliation by the judicial branch, however, establishes the contrary in its legal defense alone. 

Which only serves to raise the question of how much worse the underlying corruption that the IRS so desperately seeks to conceal must be.

Notable Quote   
 
"Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Democrats have tipped their hand to their desire to unleash noncitizen voting by opposing his state's citizenship verification in court and he is urging elections chiefs in other states to fight such lawsuits.Georgia's citizenship verification system has prevented noncitizens from getting on state voter rolls, but the state had to defend it in court…[more]
 
 
— Natalia Mittelstadt, Just the News
 
Liberty Poll   

Which would be the most useful for voters: a televised presidential debate that only includes Trump and Biden or one that adds Kennedy?