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kathleen writes "I.R.S. Move Said to Hurt the Poor.
Tax refunds sought by 1.6 million poor Americans over the last five years were frozen and their returns labeled fraudulent, although the vast majority appear to have done nothing wrong, the Internal Revenue Service's taxpayer advocate told Congress yesterday.. Taxpayer Advocate.
In violation of a longstanding court order, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has knowingly stopped providing a widely recognized data expert with detailed statistics about how the agency enforces the nation's tax laws, according to a motion filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.
The legal challenge was brought by Susan B. Long, professor Syracuse University. Long has used the IRS's own data to document its performance for more than 30 years. Since 1989 she also has been co-director of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data research organization that provides the public with detailed information about the operation of hundreds of federal agencies, including the IRS.
Long obtained a court order on July 23, 1976, from Judge Walter McGovern in connection with Long's studies of the agency while she was pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Washington. The order requires the IRS to provide her statistical data on an ongoing basis about its audit, collection and other enforcement activities.
For many years, the IRS largely abided by McGovern's order. Since mid-2004, however, the agency has refused to comply even while acknowledging the existence of the court order and of statistical material collected by the agency that is covered by the order. The agency has not offered an explanation for its refusal to provide the information. The motion filed today asks the court to compel compliance with the order.
For more than 10 years, TRAC has used the IRS's own data to produce a regular series of reports about the performance of what is today one of the nation's largest and most powerful agencies. The reports are posted on TRAC's Web site, http://trac.syr.edu./
TRAC has Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suits pending against the Justice Department's Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and the Office of Personnel Management. In addition, TRAC has administrative FOIA requests seeking data and other information from the Justice Department's Civil Division and its Environmental and Natural Resources Division, its immigration courts and several agencies within the Department of Homeland Security."