Kwoka v. IRS

In early 2017, Margaret Kwoka, an Associate Professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law whose research focuses on government secrecy and federal agencies’ administration of FOIA, requested records from the IRS reflecting specific data regarding FOIA requests received by the IRS in Fiscal Year 2015. The IRS provided some responsive records to Professor Kwoka but withheld the names of third-party FOIA requesters within those records under exemptions 3 and 6. Public Citizen represents Professor Kwoka in this suit arguing that neither exemption applies to the withheld information.

Both Professor Kwoka and the IRS filed motions for summary judgment. On September 28, 2018, the district court granted in part and denied in part summary judgment to Professor Kwoka. The court held neither exemption 3 nor exemption 6 justified the blanket withholding of the names of third-party requesters and the organizational affiliations of all requesters. The court’s opinion provided that the IRS should review the requested records and either produce them or justify individual redactions with sufficient detail to explain why either exemption was justified in that particular circumstance.

Following the court’s summary judgment decision, the IRS disclosed the vast majority of the requested information. The IRS’s productions following summary judgment are posted on this page.

Kwoka moved for an award of attorney fees, which the court denied. Kwoka then appealed the denial of fees.