FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:
September 30, 2014 Mary Beth Hutchins, 202-400-2721
Cause of Action Defeats Treasury IG Tax Office in FOIA Lawsuit
Court Rules that TIGTA Must Process FOIA Request Regarding Investigations Into
Tax Records Improperly Shared with the President
WASHINGTON –The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Monday that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) must process an October 9, 2012 Cause of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking documents about investigations into unauthorized disclosures of taxpayer information to the Executive Office of the President.
Cause of Action’s Executive Director Dan Epstein said:
The court has ruled that the federal government cannot hide behind confidentiality laws to prevent Americans from knowing if our President has gained unauthorized access to their tax information. This is a decisive win for all Americans and for government transparency and accountability. The public already knows the President uses FOIA to shield his targeting of the press and this ruling prevents the President from using FOIA to shield his targeting of taxpayers.
Under section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code, tax returns and taxpayer return information are to be kept confidential. An unauthorized disclosure under 6103, even if to the President, is not only a prosecutable offense, but warrants a prompt investigation by TIGTA. Cause of Action’s request sought information as to what confidential taxpayer information was being reviewed by the White House. In an unprecedented decision, the court determined that 6103 does not authorize the government to shield such information under an exemption to FOIA and that TIGTA’s investigations are not themselves confidential. This victory for transparency forces the agency to process documents in response to Cause of Action’s FOIA request that could show the White House accessed tax return information illegally.
Read the full decision from the court here.
About Cause of Action:
Cause of Action is a non-profit, nonpartisan government accountability organization that fights to protect economic opportunity when federal regulations, spending and cronyism threaten it. For more information, visit www.causeofaction.org.
To schedule an interview with Cause of Action’s Executive Director Dan Epstein, contact Mary Beth Hutchins, email@example.com