TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 979

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial, An IRS Class Action: A Judge Certifies That a Suit For Some 200 Groups Can Proceed:

The case against the IRS for targeting conservatives isn’t over after all. On Tuesday a federal judge in Ohio certified a class-action lawsuit against the IRS by conservative groups whose applications for tax-exempt status were slow-rolled between 2010 and 2013.

The lawsuit by the  NorCal Tea Party Patriots was filed in May 2013, shortly after the targeting came to light. It will represent more than 200 groups. In July 2014 Judge Susan Dlott dismissed parts of the lawsuit but allowed key portions to go forward. Those include claims that the IRS engaged in retaliation and viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment, and that the tax agency violated Section 6103 of the U.S. Code, which protects confidential taxpayer return information.

A class action isn’t our favorite legal method, but it fits this case because it appears the IRS targeted groups based on common criteria and treated them similarly—putting them through unprecedented scrutiny and delay. Judge Dlott, a Bill Clinton appointee, has become frustrated by IRS and Justice Department stonewalling. ...

The law firm representing the tax-exempt groups, Kansas City-based Graves Garrett, will now move on to discovery on the merits, with the ability to ask IRS officials what they did and why. The Obama Administration can appeal the class certification and no doubt it will try. But there’s still plenty of time to find out what Justice and the IRS are so committed to hide.

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