'We expect that the IRS will do better': IRS chastised for abuse of power
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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been ordered to produce the applications and lists of all tax-exempt organizations that were targeted for inappropriate political screenings.
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Los Angeles, CA (CATHOLIC ONLINE) - Since 2010, the IRS began targeting Tea Party and conservative groups for intense scrutiny when they applied for nonprofit status. Later, an inspector general discovered hundreds of groups were inappropriately questioned. Though the IRS apologized, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that they must provide all tax-exempt applications for groups that have been found to have been victims of the overzealous questioning.
Government attorneys attempted to block the judge's order to provide the information, but a three-judge panel rejected the request and scolded them for resisting "at every turn."WND, one of the judges, Judge Raymond M. Kethledge of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote: "Among the most serious allegations a federal court can address are that an executive agency has targeted citizens for mistreatment based on their political views.
"No citizen - Republican or Democrat, socialist or libertarian - should be targeted or even have to fear being targeted on those grounds. Yet those are the grounds on which the plaintiffs allege they were mistreated by the IRS here. The allegations are substantial: most are drawn from findings made by the Treasury Department's own inspector general for tax administration.
"Those findings include that the IRS used political criteria to round up applications for tax-exempt status filed by so-called tea-party groups; that the IRS often took four times as long to process tea-party applications as other applications; and that the IRS served tea-party applicants with rushing demands for what the Inspector General called 'unnecessary information.'"
Kethledge continued, stating the lawsuit was moving at the same pace the IRS took when processing tea-party applications and the IRS's dragging feet were creating an "open frustration of the district court."
In the unanimous opinion for the three judge panel, Kethledge added that the lawyers for the Department of Justice "have a long and storied tradition of defending interests and enforcing its laws - all of them, not just selective ones - in a manner worthy of the Department's name. The conduct of the IRS's attorneys in the district court falls outside that tradition. We expect that the IRS will do better going forward."
Since its chastisement, the IRS has apologized and insisted they never meant to target Tea Party organizations. They claimed the issue was not politically motivated, but was the result of overzealous employees who got lost in the legal jargon.
When Tea Party groups demanded lists in the past, the IRS claimed all information was to be kept private per tax code 6103.
In response, Judge Kethledge wrote, "Section 6103 was enacted to protect taxpayers from the IRS, not the IRS from taxpayers.
After having their appeal denied, the IRS is legally obligated to provide the information requested of them. Whether that list will be delivered in a timely manner or the IRS takes another attempt to sidestep the law remains to be seen.
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