A class action lawsuit accusing the Internal Revenue Service of singling out Tea Party members and other conservative and libertarian political groups for “intensive and intrusive scrutiny” continues to balloon with additional political groups joining the case and new allegations raised in an amended complaint.
The Tea Party class action lawsuit is spearheaded by the NorCal Tea Party Patriots, which accuses the IRS of unfairly and illegally singling them out during the tax application process because they belong to a group which criticizes how the government runs the country.
The organization claims they suffered years of delay and expense while waiting for their tax exemption applications to be processed, which cost them time and money, and forced them to make illegal admissions about their beliefs and activities. The IRS class action lawsuit says there is no evidence that liberal or progressive groups supporting the president’s re-election were subjected to the same treatment as they were in their tax applications.
The IRS class action lawsuit now includes 10 Tea Party groups from across the country.
“One tactic used by the IRS to harass, intimidate and discriminate against conservative and libertarian groups critical of the government was to demand massive disclosure of information not authorized by the Internal Revenue Code or any other federal law,” the Tea Party class action lawsuit says.
In an amended class action lawsuit filed Jan. 23, the plaintiffs added new allegations that the IRS employed people with a specific bias against conservative political parties, and that these employees were requesting extensive and unreasonable document and information requests. The Tea Parties are asking for compensation for lost donations, the cost of complying with the documentation requests, injunctive relief against the IRS to prevent further scrutiny, and other punitive damages.
NorCal and the other affected groups are alleging that the IRS violated the Privacy Act, as well as their constitutional rights after being forced to divulge their personal beliefs and group’s goal, and ultimately seeks an injunction to bar the IRS from political discrimination.
The Tea Party group first filed the IRS class action lawsuit in May 2013 on behalf of themselves and all conservative and libertarian organizations that believe they were targeted by the IRS. Some of these organizations include nonprofit groups with terms like “tea party” or “patriots” in their titles; these groups claimed to be under IRS scrutiny between 2010 and 2012. The class action lawsuit was spurred by a new internal IRS policy which was supposedly initiated last year, and was allegedly meant to target conservative groups.
After the alleged policy was revealed in the class action lawsuit, it garnered intense media attention for the case and, subsequently, fierce disapproval from congressional Republicans and the Obama administration. It triggered a U.S. Department of Justice Investigation, and even prompted the resignation of Acting IRS Commission Steven Miller.
According to the U.S.Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the specific branch in the center of the political controversy is the IRS Determinations Unit in Cincinnati. NorCal’s proposed class action lawsuit would be restricted to groups who were delayed or subjected to additional information requests for political reasons, after being referred to specialists in this center.
The IRS has filed numerous motions to dismiss the class action lawsuit, but so far these motions have not been addressed by the Court. The IRS argues that the agency and its employees based their tax decisions on sovereign immunity, and allege that the plaintiffs have no evidence or standing arguments.
NorCal is represented by David Langdon and Joshua Bolinger of Langdon Law LLC and Todd Graves and Edward Greim of Graves Bartle Marcus & Garrett LLC.
This IRS Tea Party Class Action Lawsuit is NorCal Tea Party Patriots, et al. v. Internal Revenue Service, et al., Case No. 1:13-cv-00341, in the United States District Court of Southern Ohio.
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