The Sixth Circuit Court has had enough of the IRS

Say, do you remember that whole flap over Lois Lerner and the IRS targeting conservative groups applying for tax exempt status a couple of years ago? Good times, my friends. Good times. I’m sure glad that’s all finally behind us, aren’t you?

Well guess again. It’s not even close to being over. Some of the affected groups brought suit against the IRS over the matter and that process has been dragging out for years now. They haven’t made as much ground as they might, however, because every time the plaintiffs request certain documents from the IRS, they mysteriously find reasons why they can’t be delivered as part of the normal discovery process. The case is currently stuck at the Sixth Circuit Court and this week they informed the Tax Man that they’ve had enough of their stalling. (Washington Post)

Today, nearly 1,050 days since the start of the IRS scandal triggered by allegations that the IRS unlawfully and unethically targeted tea party and other conservative organizations for special scrutiny, the litigation continues. One allegedly targeted group brought suit against the IRS for its conduct, and the IRS has resisted the litigation with the same dilatory tactics that infuriated members of Congress.

In the latest development, a federal district court ordered the IRS to turn over information concerning groups that were subject to the mistreatment identified by the agency’s inspector general. The IRS didn’t like this and is now seeking a writ of mandamus in order to avoid having to disclose more information. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit is not amused.

If I didn’t know where the statement to the IRS had come from I’d have expected to see the signature of one of the Tea Party groups at the bottom. The entire thing is worth a read, but here’s the clincher.

In closing, we echo the district court’s observations about this case. The lawyers in the Department of Justice have a long and storied tradition of defending the nation’s interests and enforcing its laws—all of them, not just selective ones—in a manner worthy of the Department’s name. The conduct of the IRS’s attorneys in the district court falls outside that tradition. We expect that the IRS will do better going forward. And we order that the IRS comply with the district court’s discovery orders of April 1 and June 16, 2015—without redactions, and without further delay.

Most of the documents being requested are the application forms submitted by the groups seeking tax exempt status. The IRS has kept insisting that the names of both the groups and the individuals submitting them are on the forms along with their taxpayer identification number and this somehow makes them confidential “return information” which they can’t release under law. This would be hilarious if it weren’t our own government acting in such a duplicitous fashion. They are taking laws which were designed to protect taxpayers from having their personal information exposed and turning them on their heads to try to cover their own backsides.

Fortunately, the court seems to have run out of patience and has ruled that the documents be produced along with all relevant records. I’m not sure how many more appeals the IRS has left before they finally have to come clean, but the end may be in sight.

IRS Tax Day

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