What is the IRS doing sharing tax data from individuals with the White House?
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration informed the group Cause of Action that, even though thousands of documents relating to the IRS sharing tax information with the White House existed, the group couldn’t have them due to privacy concerns. Cause of Action had filed an FOIA request for the documents and a judge ruled the IRS must turn the docs over by December 1.
The obvious question is why the White House can see the data and not private citizens? There is probably some rule relating to vetting appointees that makes it legal for the White House to view tax data, but more than 2000 documents?
On Tuesday, an attorney with TIGTA wrote a letter to Cause of Action, and acknowledged that the watchdog had located “2,509 pages of documents potentially responsive to your request.” Of those, TIGTA confirmed that 2,043 were in fact responsive to the request.
However, TIGTA said it could not release the documents to the group, citing the tax code.
“These pages consist of return information protected by 26 U.S.C. § 6103 and may not be disclosed absent an express statutory exception,” the letter said. “Because no such exception exists here, we are withholding those.”
Dan Epstein, a spokesman for Cause of Action, told FoxNews.com he believes that the IRS “essentially ignored the order of the court” with this declaration and that the group is considering the best path forward to force the IRS to disclose the documents.
However, Epstein said that the group feels that TIGTA’s acknowledgment of the documents is “absolutely” a victory in their investigation. He said the sheer number of relevant documents indicates that wrongdoing occurred on the part of both the IRS and the White House.
“That indicates scandal,” he said.
When asked about the case Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he wasn’t familiar with it but that the administration “very closely” adheres to rules that ensure the IRS operates without political interference.
“I can tell you that, as a rule, that the Obama administration has been very rigorous in following all of the rules and regulations that govern proper communication between Treasury officials and White House officials and the Internal Revenue Service,” Earnest said.
Epstein said it is clear that’s not true.
“We know for a fact that the IRS broke the law,” he said.
Epstein said he hopes that TIGTA’s revelation will spur Congress and the Department of Justice to investigate the issue, and possibly get access to the documents themselves.
“If there is any evidence that the White House requested (unauthorized taxpayer information), then people in the White House are going to be implicated,” he said.
Not a “smidgeon” of corruption, eh Barry?
In case you didn’t catch the significance of this revelation, the IRS scandal just shot to #1 on the Obama administration biggest scandals chart. And the arrogance of this White House in their response only shows that they know this is a non-story being reported by the non-media. They have nothing to worry about from the lapdog press. It’s already disappearing down the memory hole
You would hope that Cause of Action would continue their quest, but federal privacy laws are tough to overcome. They may request that a judge order the IRS to turn over the documents with the private info redacted. But requiring that the IRS redact the private information in the docs would be an open invitation for the agency to strike out 90% of what’s written.. That’s a favorite tactic of the FBI and CIA when FOIA requests come too close to government wrongdoing.
It’s very difficult to make a case in defense of the White House’s actions in this matter. Absent evidence to the contrary, one has to assume that the politicians in the White House either used the information to intimidate their enemies or researched the tax data of their political opponents to use against them in campaigns.