Cause of Action’s battle continues against the IRS’s chief auditor (TIGTA) to publicize unauthorized disclosures to the White House.  Yesterday, TIGTA released 31 pages, 27 of which are already publicly available. In sum, TIGTA has produced only about one percent of the documents responsive to CoA’s request despite the court’s ruling mandating disclosure.

The records released show that TIGTA was concerned about inquiries from “external stakeholders,” including the White House and the Department of the Treasury, following media reports that TIGTA had opened an investigation into whether Koch Industries’ tax information was illegally disclosed to Austan Goolsbee.  See the full production here.

After Cause of Action’s 2012 public records (FOIA) request concerning investigations into unauthorized disclosures of taxpayer information to the White House, TIGTA refused to confirm the existence of any records, so we took them to court. The Court ruled in CoA’s favor in September and TIGTA claimed that it was reviewing 2509 pages of documents to comply with a court order.  On December 1, 2014, TIGTA indicated that after review, 2043 pages were responsive to Cause of Action’s request, but it refused to produce actual records. TIGTA claimed the records were protected under Section 6103, a provision in the tax code requiring the confidentiality of tax returns or return information relating to a taxpayer’s actual or potential tax liability.

The IRS’s auditor (TIGTA) indicated that it would address the remaining 466 pages within two weeks.  On December 15, 2014, TIGTA withheld 435 pages and released 27 pages in full and 4 pages in part, again citing Section 6103 as the basis for protecting nearly all of the records.  In other words: the records showing White House and IRS employees may have violated Americans’ privacy is being protected under . . . privacy laws.

Looking Ahead:

CoA will file a motion claiming TIGTA’s failure to produce all responsive documents is in violation of the law.  The Court has scheduled a briefing schedule to begin on January 30, 2015.  In the meantime, CoA will aggressively file additional FOIA requests to determine the extent of the White House’s review of taxpayer information, even outside of the context of Section 6103.   Stay tuned.