White House emails to the IRS about individual tax returns cannot be exempted by the embattled agency under the Freedom of Information Act, a federal judge ruled Friday.
United States District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Section 6103 of the tax code does not justify the IRS from withholding from FOIA requesters by refusing to say whether the records exist. She ordered the IRS to respond properly to an FOIA request submitted by the non-profit watchdog group Cause of Action.
“As we have said all along, this administration cannot misinterpret the law in order to potentially hide evidence of wrongdoing. No administration is above the law, and we are pleased that the court has sided with us on this important point,” said Daniel Bernstein, executive director of Cause of Action.
Berman said the tax agency “has not described an adequate search for records” sought in the FOIA and she said the IRS response to the FOIA “raises the question of whether executive branch requests for ‘return information’ are themselves ‘return information’ that cannot be disclosed.”
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