IRS Withholds Public Information
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The Internal Revenue Service is one of the nation’s largest and most powerful agencies and both Democrat and Republican administrations have been accused of using it as a political tool. Now a veteran college professor, who has tracked the IRS for 30 years, is suing the agency for illegally withholding detailed tax enforcement data that shows which kinds of taxpayers get the most and toughest audits.
Syracuse University Professor Susan B. Long is also co-director of the nonprofit Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research organization that provides the public with detailed information about the operation of hundreds of federal agencies. Her recent lawsuit accuses the IRS of violating a 1976 court order directing the agency to provide her regularly with data on criminal investigations, tax collections, the number and hours devoted to audits by income level and taxpayer category and other enforcement records.
A spokesman for the IRS acknowledged that the court order is still in effect but claims that the agency cannot seem to determine exactly what information Long is entitled to. The Live Journal points out that if the Bush Administration is following Bill Clinton’s example, its almost certain that IRS audits have been used as a weapon against political enemies.