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Judge to IRS: Fulfill 34-year-old FOIA Request

The IRS has flouted three court orders enforcing a 1974 FOIA request, a federal judge has ruled. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman in Seattle gave the IRS 30 days to produce the requested information, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reports.

The order was entered in response to a motion filed in February by Syracuse School of Management Professor Susan B. Long, codirector of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data-research organization that compiles government statistics for the public. Long's motion sought enforcement of three previous court orders dating back to 1976. RCFP explains:

The FOIA saga that spanned four decades began in 1974 when Long, then a graduate student at The University of Washington, filed her original request for statistics from the IRS. She received a court order to enforce the request two years later.

For years, the IRS complied, providing her with the information about its audit policies and practices. Starting in mid-2004, however, the IRS stopped sending Long data.

A 2006 motion resulted in two more court orders against the IRS, but they were unenforceable: On paper, Long had a right to all the documents she wanted to compile the TRAC database. But in practice, she described the IRS’ stance as 'open defiance' of the orders.

The IRS claimed an FOIA exemption meant it did not have to comply with the request. But the judge found that the IRS had waived this argument three decades ago.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on June 18, 2008 at 11:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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