On April 14, 2015, Judicial Watch announced it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) seeking “any and all records” related to the selection of both individuals and organizations for audits based upon applications filed requesting nonprofit tax status. The lawsuit was filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia.
In May 2013, the Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released an audit report confirming that the IRS used “inappropriate” criteria to identify Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations that had expressed opposition to the Obama administration’s policy stances during the 2012 election cycle. In May 2014, Lois Lerner, the former Director of the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Unit, was held in contempt of Congress after refusing to testify at a congressional hearing about the agency’s actions. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has declined to prosecute this contempt charge.
The Judicial Watch lawsuit was filed after the IRS failed to comply with two FOIA requests submitted on October 10, 2014. The first sought:
Any and all records concerning, regarding or relating to the selection of individuals for IRS audits based on information submitted in organizations’ applications for 501(c )(4) tax-exempt status, 501 (c)(4) donor lists, or IRS Form 990s. [Emphasis added]
The second request sought:
Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to the selection of 501(c)(4) tax-exemption organizations for IRS audits based on information submitted in applications for tax-exempt status or IRS Form 990s. [Emphasis added]