Judicial Watch today released 695 pages of new documents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that contain admissions by IRS officials that the agency used “inappropriate political labels” to screen the tax-exempt applications of conservative organizations. Other records reveal that the IRS was going to require 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations to restrict their alleged political activities in exchange for “expedited consideration” of their tax-exempt applications.
The documents were produced after a revelation by the IRS that it had located “an additional 6,924 documents of potentially responsive records” relating to a 2015 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit about the Obama IRS targeting scandal. The FOIA lawsuit seeks records about the IRS’ selection of individuals and organizations for audits based upon applications requesting nonprofit tax status filed by Tea Party and other 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations (Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:15-cv-00220)).
Of the 695 pages of documents released by the IRS, 422 (61%) were withheld in their entirety. These newly identified records are not records that were contained in the “Congressional Database,” which the IRS created in 2013 to house records responsive to congressional inquiries into the IRS scandal.
The documents also include a “Dear [Applicant]” letter which offers an “expedited process” for 501(c)(4)s in exchange for restriction on their activities:
This optional expedited process is currently available only to applicants for 501(c)(4) status with applications pending for more than 120 days as of May 28, 2013, that indicate the organization may be involved in political campaign intervention.
In this optional process, an organization will represent that it satisfies, and will continue to satisfy, set percentages with respect to the level of its social welfare activities and political campaign intervention activities (as defined in the specific instructions on pages 5-7). These percentage representations are not an interpretation of law but are a safe harbor for those organizations that choose to participate in the optional process.
h/t Daniel Higdon