So we had another Tea Party decision on April 1 of all days. NorCal Tea Party Patriots is one of the ten organizations in a lawsuit against the IRS because of delays and intrusive scrutiny while they were applying for exempt status. They want it to be a class action suit, but they need information from the IRS to determine what organizations should be in the class. Here is what they are looking for specifically.
56. Please produce all charts, lists, spreadsheets, or indexes of groups who had their Applications for Tax Exemption selected or flagged by the IRS for heightened review based on the Emerging Issues tab of the BOLO.
63. Please produce the document titled “501c4 Cases for TIGTA(1).xls,” which the IRS sent to TIGTA on June 11, 2012.
64. Please produce the document titled “Advocacy Case Tracking Sheet 06052012.xls,” which the IRS sent to TIGTA on June 11, 2012.
(Doc. 142 at PageID 2520.) They also requested that the Government authenticate, or respond that it cannot authenticate, the so-called “USA Today” document referenced as Exhibit B in CM/ECF Doc. 142 and filed at CM/ECF Doc. 142-2 at PageID 2588–99. The Government again objected to the narrowed discovery requests on the basis that responding would require them to violate § 6103(a). Both parties agree that the discovery Plaintiffs seeks qualifies as “return information” pursuant to § 6103(b)(2).
The Court concludes that the return information sought is directly related to the issue of class certification in this federal court proceeding. The names of the putative class member organizations and their control dates—the date which the putative class member organizations submitted their applications for tax exempt status to the IRS—are directly related to the issue of class certification. Plaintiffs seek the return information of the putative class members to prove to the Court that the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and 23(b) requirements such as typicality, commonality, and whether the IRS acted on a grounds that applied generally to the putative class are satisfied.
The arguments in this case by the Justice Department are another example of how the IRS has been hiding behind Section 6103. That law was intended to prevent the IRS from publicly disclosing private tax information—such as its illegal disclosure of the tax returns of the National Organization for Marriage (the IRS agreed to pay National Organization for Marriage $50,000 to settle that case in June of 2014). But the IRS has been trying to use this law to prevent having to disclose its abusive treatment of taxpayers.
Mark Meckler, a tea party member and president of Citizens for Self Governance, which is funding the suit, stated that “We are at the precipice” of certifying the class action suit. The plaintiffs in the suit currently consist of 10 groups, among them the NorCal Tea Party Patriots, the Faith and Freedom Coalition of Ohio, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation. The groups initiated their suit in 2013.