Public Citizen has filed this FOIA suit on behalf of researchers Susan Long and David Burnham, co-directors of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, seeking access to information about the databases the IRS uses to track its enforcement and auditing efforts. The IRS denied requests for basic materials about its information systems on the ground that the records had been designated to be for “internal use” or “official use only,” even though those are not valid bases for withholding materials under FOIA. The IRS also claimed that some of the materials sought related to “homeland security” even though they are not classified and do not fall within any statutory categories of national security information that is exempt from release under FOIA. Finally, the IRS claimed that it was not even denying the FOIA requests, even though it was refusing to release the materials.
The lawsuit sought release of the particular documents requested, and also challenged the IRS’s purported “policy” of not releasing “internal use” and “official use only” documents irrespective of FOIA’s requirements. The suit also sought a declaration that IRS officials acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying the FOIA requests, which, if issued by the court, would have prompted lead an investigation by the Office of Special Counsel as to whether the responsible officials should be subject to discipline.
The case was dismissed when the IRS turned over the requested records.