Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials barely searched for records that would reveal the agency disclosed taxpayer information to the White House without authorization, a court filing alleges.
IRS employees claimed they couldn’t find any documents responsive to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that would reveal the unauthorized disclosures, but Cause of Action (CoA) Institute’s Friday court filing argues the agency didn’t search email correspondence and only looked through formal disclosure requests.
“In short, the IRS appears determined not to perform an adequate search for records that may demonstrate serious wrongdoing by federal officials — the same officials who are tasked with the duty to protect the confidentiality of taxpayer information,” the filing said.
CoA Institute sued the IRS following a FOIA request for documents concerning the unauthorized disclosures after White House official Austan Goolsbee apparently discussed the Koch Industries’ tax status, The Washington Times reported in June.
The White House “has never requested or received return information of any taxpayer,” IRS lawyer Sarah Tate said in a sworn statement, according to the Times.
But the IRS “improperly refused to search email correspondence for responsive records,” CoA Institute’s recent filing said. “The IRS failed to address this refusal to search email.”
“Given the political sensitivity of unauthorized requests for disclosure of tax returns or return information, individuals involved with such requests would likely employ less formal methods of communication, including email,” the filing continued.
CoA alleges that the IRS only searched record systems that track authorized disclosures. Inspecting those systems wouldn’t make sense since the White House likely wouldn’t submit an unauthorized request through formal channels.
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