Paul L. Caron

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 576

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Recovered IRS Emails Can't Be Revealed Because Of Privacy...That Was Already Breached, by Robert W. Wood:

For over 18 months, we’ve been wondering about those ‘lost’ IRS emails. Would they surface and if so, what they would show? Targeting? Profanity? Nothing? It was a whole year into the Congressional investigation before the IRS first said they were ‘lost,’ a bizarrely belated “oh by the way….”

Think you could file your tax return a year late next year? Would the IRS show some compassion? Unlikely. Yet it turns out those lost, destroyed, found, and now warehoused emails still can’t be reviewed by the media or anyone else. Why? Because they contain confidential taxpayer information, that’s why.

So says the IRS watchdog known as TIGTA, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The Inspector General has done great works this year and often pokes at the IRS behemoth to improve it. But the Inspector General is in a tough spot over this privacy issue.

We thought the news that the lost or destroyed Lois Lerner emails were actually not lost or destroyed meant we would get to the bottom of this once and for all. How else could we see if the President’s supporters are right? They say this is a ‘witch hunt’ that reveals not even a smidgen of corruption, a phrase Mr. Obama himself repeated to Fox News in February. But once again, we’re in the dark. Talk about a Catch-22. ...

A judge finally ruled that the IRS must turn over any relevant documents to Cause of Action. But that puts in Inspector General back in the hot seat. TIGTA admits it has thousands of pages of responsive documents. However, TIGTA says it can’t release them because they contain confidential taxpayer information. That sure sounds telling already, even if we can’t see them!

After all, why would communications between the IRS and the White House contain taxpayer information? A key question is whether any officials at the White House ever asked anyone at the IRS to transmit private taxpayer information to the White House in violation of law. Moreover, regardless of whether the White House asked for any taxpayer information, did the IRS ever transmit any?

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This is a very confused account that conflates two different events. First, the Lois Lerner emails are not related to the Cause of Action FOIA lawsuit. The Lois Lerner email issue arises from subpoenas from two congressional committees investigating the “scandal.”
Second, 24,000 LL emails from the “lost” period were recovered from other computers and provided to the congressional committees. TIGTA announced last week that U.S. government disaster recovery tapes may contain up to 30,000 recoverable LL emails. These may be some, all, or none of the same 24,000 emails already provided to the congressional committees. There is no evidence or even a suggestion by TIGTA that any of these emails consist of communications between Lerner and the WH. These emails may or may not be entirely intra-IRS emails.
Third, regardless of whether the 30,000 grouping is intra-IRS or between the IRS and the WH, if they involve named taxpayers, they are confidential under IRC § 6103(a) and can only be released to the extent permitted by other subsections of § 6103 or other provisions of the IRC. Section 6103 is not interpreted as a privilege by most courts. That is to say, even if 6103 privacy has somehow been breached, that does not vitiate the requirement of confidentiality. Once the emails have been recovered and put into some kind of readable form, they can be released to Chairman Jordan’s committee, which is authorized to receive returns and return information. However, Chairman Issa’s committee is not permitted to receive such information, and therefore, before the emails can be delivered to Issa they will have to be redacted to extent possible under applicable law.
Fourth, in the Cause of Action FOIA suit, Judge Jackson did NOT order TIGTA to release documents. Her Sept. 29, 2014 order required TIGTA to complete processing of CoA;s request and advise CoA of how many documents have been recovered and how many are responsive. TIGTA did that last week, advising CoA that there are 2,043 pages of responsive documents.
Fifth, the TIGTA documents are not documents that were sent to the WH. They are records of one or more investigations of alleged improper disclosures to the WH. Such records are in and of themselves tax return information of the individuals who were investigated and also contain return information of the persons whose returns were alleged disclosed. None of that can be released to CoA, because it is confidential under § 6103.
Last, there is nothing improper or even suspicious about disclosures of tax returns and return information to the WH. Such disclosures are specifically authorized by § 6103(g). Most such disclosures are made for the purpose of doing “tax checks” during the vetting of potential WH employees and potential presidential appointees.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Dec 6, 2014 3:22:34 PM

Do YOU think it would make any difference if the kind of records productive people have maintained on them were also maintained for recipients of income(redistributed)?

Please tell me why it isn't important, a process for equality under the law, that recipients of income(redistributed) be issued 1099-GOV. Wage slaves get W-2's. Contractors get 1099-MISC. And this from EVERY single government entity in the country.

However, the money the redirect for those that earn it is not reported.

Are there working Americans that get W-2's and have to file form 1040 but don't pay taxes? Are they still subject to penalties for not filing?

Recipients of 1099-GOV that don't file should, in all fairness, be subject to the rule of law in the same way.

Only then will fairness is the IRS start to evolve. Not to mention the magnifying glass on government spending.

Posted by: SenatorMark | Dec 6, 2014 1:56:11 PM

What all this shows is the the pseudo-Constitutional lawyer and the cohort of Marxist ivy-league lawyers following him have done a much better job of reading the law than any conservative group. The clearly are winning the war for taking over the government.

EG. Saying your going to issue and executive order, but don't, then having all the executive agencies act like it was issued. By fiat Obama is ruling now and the path is firm.

Posted by: SenatorMark | Dec 6, 2014 1:46:47 PM

This isn't new for the IRS. Remember in the NOM case where they refused to identify the IRS employees who gave a Democrat activist group tax returns and applications that belonged to people on Obama's enemies list? The IRS claimed the law to protect victims privacy would be violated if the public knew who the IRS employees were who broke the law. These IRS employees have ye to be punished despite the IRS settling the lawsuit and paying damages. Why would they be punished? Their loyalty to the Democrat party must be rewarded.

Also, in her previous job, Lerner engaged in extortion of non-Democrats.

How about we end the corruption? What is this Venezuela?

Posted by: wodun | Dec 6, 2014 1:29:26 PM

The GOP are mad at Lois because she discovered their illegal actions in her previous job. Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi. Millions will be wasted

Posted by: m brocker | Dec 6, 2014 10:40:33 AM