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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 398

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, Another IRS Abuse: Lois Lerner's Office Sent Confidential Taxpayer Data to the FBI:

In a Monday letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Reps. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) and Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) of the House Oversight Committee reveal still another IRS abuse of conservatives. In October of 2010, apparently without a court order, the IRS sent 21 computer disks containing 1.1 million pages of tax-return documents to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to the Justice Department, the massive data dump included public returns from non-profit groups but also taxpayer information that by law the IRS is required to keep confidential. Reps. Issa and Jordan ask in their letter for information relating to the preparation and transmittal of the data.

How did these documents wind up at the FBI? In September of 2010, IRS officials including Lois Lerner and Sarah Hall Ingram helped the New York Times prepare a story about non-profit policy groups which "heavily favored Republicans" in their purchases of issue advertising. 

The day after the article appeared, Justice Department Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith noted the story in an email to colleagues and asked whether they could charge the groups with conspiracy to violate U.S. laws. Mr. Smith also suggested scheduling a meeting with Ms. Ingram, who like Ms. Lerner was a senior official overseeing tax-exempt organizations at the IRS. ...

Last month, 26 House Democrats joined with Republicans in voting to urge Attorney General Eric Holder "to appoint a special counsel to investigate the targeting of conservative nonprofit groups by the Internal Revenue Service." The new revelations of taxpayer abuse ensure that Congressional pressure for a more thorough investigation will continue.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/06/the-irs-scandal-8.html

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Comments

There are three serious problems with this rather biased (it’s the WSJ, so what else it new?) story.

1. Although WSJ asserts that the “data dump” evidences “another IRS abuse of conservatives,” there is nothing in the story to support the necessary facts that all, most, some, or even any of the information transmitted to the FBI concerned “conservatives” exclusively, mostly, partly, or at all.

2. WSJ states that the documents were sent to the FBI “apparently without a court order.” That’s a pretty big “apparently,” since an ex parte court order under 26 U.S.C. § 6103(i) would make the “data dump” completely legal for all criminal purposes, including non-tax criminal purposes.

3. Even is there were no ex parte “(i) order” authorizing the transfer, if the FBI’s inquiry about “charg[ing] the groups with conspiracy to violate U.S. laws” includes potential conspiracy to impede the functioning of the internal revenue laws under 28 U.S.C. § 371–a very common charge and a highly likely scenario under the circumstances–the transfer of information to the FBI was lawful under 26 U.S.C. § 6103(h)(2).

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jun 11, 2014 12:43:49 PM