The conservative Houston-based True the Vote filed suit against the Internal Revenue Service in federal Washington, D.C. court Tuesday, requesting the court grant the organization tax-exempt status and damages from IRS harassment.
“We’ve been waiting for three years to receive a decision from the IRS about our tax exempt status,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said in a statement. “After answering hundreds of questions and producing thousands of documents, we’re done waiting. The IRS does not have the power to pocket veto our application. Federal law empowers groups like True the Vote to force a decision in court – which is precisely what we aim to do.”
Engelbrecht has also charged that in addition to the IRS targeting her group, the FBI, ATF and OSHA have had increased interest in her, her family business and groups.
True the Vote’s lawsuit, however, deals with the IRS.
“We are not going to allow the IRS to claim, as it has been doing in the past week, that the targeting of conservative groups is over and ‘everything has been fixed,’” Cleta Mitchell, True the Vote counsel, added in a statement. “It is not yet fixed and this litigation is a vital step both to resolve True the Vote’s status and to learn exactly what happened inside the IRS.”
The suit names the IRS, Acting Commissioner Steven Miller, former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner, and five Cincinati IRS employees as defendants.
“True the Vote’s application for tax-exempt status was filed with the IRS on July15, 2010 and has been pending for nearly three years,” the suit reads. “Due to True the Vote’s perceived conservative policy positions and affiliation with Tea Party organizations, the IRS and IRS Employees systematically targeted True the Vote’s application for additional review and scrutiny, whereby True the Vote was deliberately subjected to numerous unnecessary and burdensome requests for information about its operations and affiliations.”
“Consequently, True the Vote was forced to furnish to the IRS information and documents wholly unnecessary to the determination of True the Vote’s tax-exempt status, which were repeatedly accessed and inspected by IRS agents. The processing of True the Vote’s application was deliberately delayed and its recognition as a tax-exempt organization has been improperly withheld as a result of defendants’ actions,” the suit continues.
True the Vote is seeking recognition as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, damages from the IRS’ actions targeting and delaying True the Vote’s tax-exempt status, and damages for the IRS’ burdensome information requests and possible dissemination of that information.
“This is just the first of several cases ActRight Legal Foundation plans to file against the IRS and those within the agency who have violated the constitutional rights of these citizens’ organizations,” said John Eastman, chairman of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and counsel to ActRight Legal Foundation, which is assisting in that case