The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has agreed to hand over 2,500 documents that could show the IRS passed along confidential taxpayer data to the White House. These documents were collected by TIGTA, as part of an an investigation into whether the IRS was improperly giving information to the White House.
While the TIGTA investigated whether the IRS leaked confidential taxpayer data to the White House, but never released a report. But now they will turn the documents it collected to the group Cause of Action.
The TIGTA investigation began when Austan Goolsbee, the former chair of the White House’s Counsel of Economic Advisers, implied that Koch Industries doesn’t pay any corporate income tax. But Goolsbee would not legally have access to that information.
in response to a letter from six Republican senators that it was
launching an investigation into Goolsbee’s comments and whether he
violated the law. However, the report was never released to the senators
or the public causing Cause of Action to file a Freedom of Information Act request to see the result of the TIGTA’s investigation in September, a judge ordered Treasury to respond to Cause of Action’s request for
documents. That request relates to the Department’s Inspector General’s
investigation–which began a long time ago, and probably has long been
concluded–and asks for “[a]ll documents pertaining to any investigation
by [TIGTA] into the unauthorized disclosure of [26 U.S.C.] §6103 ‘return
information’ to anyone in the Executive Office of the President.”
This disclosure, coming only after Cause of Action sued TIGTA over its refusal to acknowledge whether such investigations took place, and after the Court ordered TIGTA to reveal whether or not documents existed, signals that the White House may have made significant efforts to obtain taxpayers’ personal information,” the group said.
“This disclosure, following on the heels of TIGTA’s admission that it recovered 30,000 ‘lost’ Lois Lerner emails, renews Cause of Action’s concerns about the decaying professionalism of, and apparent slip into partisanship by, IRS’s senior leadership,” the group added.
Today the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed the watchdog group Cause of Action that it will turn over nearly 2,500 documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the group.
Should it turn out the White House revived confidential tax payer information it will be a major new path of the IRS abuse scandal even worse than the targeting of conservative groups asthe privacy protections for taxpayer data held by the IRS are among the
most sensitive parts of the tax law. That makes any alleged
transgressions of these rules serious.
In one of the basic
decisions of U.S. constitutional law, in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution exempts the
Federal Government from state taxation. But more importantly it set forth the maxim that “the power to tax involves the power to destroy.” If it turns out the IRS illegally shared information with the White House, that maxim will be truer than ever.