Nonprofit Sues IRS For Shielding Records From Taxpayers

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Nonprofit government watchdog Cause of Action (CoA) Institute officials sued the IRS Thursday after it refused to release records about its dealings with Congress’s Joint Committee On Taxation.

“The IRS continues to withhold agency records that the American people have a right to see,” CoA president John Vecchione said in a statement. “Agency records, including communications with Congress, are subject to FOIA. But the IRS is now attempting to change the rules and withhold all of its communications with, and other records relating to, the JCT. Our lawsuit challenges what appears to be a ploy by the IRS to avoid transparency.”

The nonprofit filed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after a six-month battle with the IRS for agency communications with the committee and other committee-related records in the agency’s possession.

December 2015 guidance from the IRS Office of Chief Counsel prompted CoA Institute’s June 2016 request. The agency claimed IRS records related to the committee should be treated as “congressional records” exempt from public disclosure.

Institute officials claim the IRS guidance contradicts “long-standing precedent” for what records agencies must provide to FOIA requesters. (RELATED: Federal Court Asked To Order IRS To Disclose Clinton Foundation Tax-Exemption Docs)

The IRS claimed the group’s request and subsequent appeal was “too broad and too nebulous.”

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