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IRS Must Reveal White House’s Private Taxpayer Requests
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After allegedly dodging the issue for years, the IRS must now turn over information about White House requests for taxpayer information.

Summary: After allegedly dodging the issue for years, the IRS must now turn over information about White House requests for taxpayer information.

The IRS fought it hard, but lost: according to Forbes, a federal judge has ruled that the IRS must release information about all requests the White House made for private taxpayer information. The move is the latest in a scandal that has plagued the White House for a couple of years.

  
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According to the Orange County Register, the problem began when IRS employees reportedly targeted Tea Party and other conservative nonprofit groups for unreasonable scrutiny when they sought tax-exempt status.

The IRS just admitted that Lois Lerner, who, according to Wikipedia, is the former Director of Exempt Organizations within the IRS, actually had a secret email address under her pup’s name that she used for IRS business.

A former partner at Hughes, Hubbard & Reed pleaded guilty to tax fraud.

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You read that right—it was under her dog’s name.

For several years now, several federal investigations have looked into Lerner’s actions, but she has failed to testify or cooperate with the investigation.



Interestingly, in one email, Lerner warned her staffers about providing too much information to Congress.

Lerner

Lerner

Many have been frustrated with the IRS’ failure to hand over the information. However, thanks to Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the IRS will have to cough up the taxpayer data. Until now, the IRS has argued that it cannot hand over White House requests and private taxpayer data the IRS provided to the White House because it is private information.

Some think tax hikes up to 90 percent would benefit all Americans.

The court wasn’t buying it, however. In the court’s ruling, the judge said that the IRS cannot use a law to defend its actions when that law was enacted to prohibit the same type of conduct.

Do you think the conservative taxpayers were unfairly targeted?

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Specifically, the court said,

“Congress amended section 6103 in 1976 “in the wake of Watergate and White House efforts to harass those on its ‘enemies list,’” in order to “restrict[] government officers and employees from revealing ‘any return’ or ‘return information,’” and its “core purpose” is to “protect[] taxpayer privacy.” So, this Court questions whether section 6103 should or would shield records that indicate that confidential taxpayer information was misused, or that government officials made an improper attempt to access that information. The IRS argues that “section 6103’s definition of ‘return information’ . . . makes no distinction based on the purpose for which a person might seek disclosure of the documents.” But accepting this argument would require a finding that even requests for return information that could involve a violation of section 6103 constitute “return information” that is exempt from disclosure under FOIA Exemption 3 and section 6103. The Court is unwilling to stretch the statute so far, and it cannot conclude that section 6103 may be used to shield the very misconduct it was enacted to prohibit.”

The current lawsuit was first filed after the government refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The FOIA request was eventually filed with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), as well as the IRS after TIGTA stated it initiated a review.

Last year, Obama called out companies that switched their addresses for tax purposes.

The TIGTA report was never released, though. At that point, the suit was split into two separate suits, one against the IRS, and one against TIGTA.

The court has now ordered the IRS to locate records it would not disclose earlier.

Although the Obama administration has insisted that the IRS has done nothing wrong, many are curious to see if such a statement is true once the documents are finally produced.

Source: Forbes

Photo credit: Huffington Post, politico.com (Lerner)



 

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