Biden IRS Is Trying to Spy on Your Bank Account and Target Christians. Time to Defeat the IRS Again
When President Biden announced his Administration’s slogan would be “Build Back Better,” we wondered if he meant restoring the corrupt, abusive practices of the Obama-Biden Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The ACLJ has been fighting discrimination against conservatives and Christians by the corrupt IRS for more than a decade. Now, despite the victories we achieved, we find ourselves gearing up to again fight the corrupt IRS in court and in Congress again.
In 2012, we reported how we had been contacted by multiple conservative Tea Party groups that received intrusive demands from the IRS after they had requested 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. We were informed that when these groups initially submitted their requests, in some instances, the IRS took over 18-20 months to respond.
And when the IRS did respond, the groups received letters asking intrusive questions regarding political affiliations, candidates they’d invited to speak, as well as other individuals they’d associated with or invited to join their group. The IRS even requested background information on members’ families.
The ACLJ quickly sent a demand letter to the IRS informing them we were representing the Tea Party groups that had received these improper, unconstitutional requests. We had no idea then what a long, bumpy ride we were in for, and the depths of discrimination and targeting we were going to uncover.
Then on May 10, 2013, Lois Lerner, then-head of the IRS Tax Exempt Organizations Division, issued a so-called apology, admitting there had been intentional targeting of groups with “Tea Party” and “patriot” in their names but claimed that this targeting was limited to a small group of “low level” staffers in one regional office. Yet it was revealed that Lerner herself knew of the illegal targeting by at least June 29, 2011, and that there were discussions with the IRS Chief Counsel’s Office about this issue on August 4, 2011.
Days after Lois Lerner publicly implicated the IRS in one of the worst political targeting scandals of the century:
[T]he ACLJ filed a massive lawsuit against the IRS for implementation of an unlawful targeting scheme whereby the IRS singled out the applications of conservative organizations, delayed processing those applications, then made harassing, probing and unnecessary requests for additional information that often required applicants to disclose, among other things, donor lists, communications with members of legislative bodies, internet passwords and usernames, and political and charitable activities of officers and their family members.
As that litigation progressed, we learned that senior IRS officials were aware that conservative groups were being intentionally and illegally targeted, that it was occurring beyond one office, and that it continued to occur even after the “apology.” We called for a Special Counsel to be appointed to investigate, because the Obama Justice Department could not be trusted. For his part, President Obama was coy about revealing what he knew regarding the targeting, but as we told you, his White House Counsel and his Chief of Staff were aware.
Testimony in the case revealed that the IRS Chief Counsel – who was appointed by President Obama himself – had been actively involved in examining applications for tax-exempt status. And despite IRS officials claiming the Tea Party was not targeted, we told you how a series of emails written by Lerner herself in 2011 called tea party applications, “problematic,” and referred to the Tea Party matter as, “very dangerous.”
Later, we reported that the House Ways and Means Committee released its finding that every single 501(c)(4) organization selected for an audit by the IRS was a conservative group, further refuting IRS claims that it did not target conservatives.
The case itself was not an easy journey. As we explained:
In October 2014, the district court dismissed our claims and concluded that the IRS had voluntarily ceased all unlawful conduct. We appealed that decision; and in August 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed the district court’s decision, specifically finding that the IRS had failed to provide sufficient evidence demonstrating that either the targeting scheme, or its effects on our clients in the case, had actually ended. Since that time, the ACLJ has been successful in obtaining discovery in the case – requiring the IRS to give an account for its conduct.
Documents released earlier this year in our lawsuit revealed that the IRS, under the Obama Administration, constructed a special group to review “all applications associated with the Tea Party.” The group was apparently designed to snare targeted organizations’ tax exemption applications to limit their impact during the 2012 elections. Many conservative organizations, including our clients, were placed on “Be-on-the-Lookout” (BOLO) lists if their names or policy positions gave the appearance they were affiliated with the Tea Party. The IRS was able to protect its politically targeted scheme by hiding its operations and activity behind the layers of bureaucracy festering within the IRS and with the cooperation of other government agencies under the Obama Administration. The IRS even colluded with Obama’s FBI and DOJ in an attempt to “piece together” false criminal charges against the Tea Party groups it was wrongfully targeting.
Finally, over five years after we were first contacted by targeted groups, and a court case that included years of denial and blame-shifting by IRS officials, stonewalling, and lost IRS emails, we scored a resounding victory.
As we reported, the IRS admitted in federal court that it had indeed wrongfully targeted Tea Party and conservative groups, and issued an apology to our clients for doing so. In addition, the IRS consented to a court order prohibiting it from ever engaging in such unconstitutional discrimination again.
The Consent Order filed by the Parties is designed to prevent such events from occurring again and contains declarations to that effect. In addition to the IRS’s admissions of and apology for its wrongful conduct, the Consent Order would specifically award Plaintiffs the following:
- A declaration by the Court that it is wrong to apply the United States tax code to any tax-exempt applicant or entity based solely on such entity’s name, any lawful positions it espouses on any issues, or its associations or perceived associations with a particular political movement, position or viewpoint;
- A declaration by the Court that any action or inaction taken by the IRS must be applied evenhandedly and not based solely on a tax-exempt applicant or entity’s name, political viewpoint, or associations or perceived associations with a particular political movement, position or viewpoint; and
- A declaration by the Court that discrimination on the basis of political viewpoint in administering the United States tax code violates fundamental First Amendment rights. Disparate treatment of taxpayers based solely on the taxpayers’ names, any lawful positions the taxpayers espouse on any issues, or the taxpayers’ associations or perceived associations with a particular political movement, position or viewpoint is unlawful.
In the Order, the IRS has also agreed that (unless expressly required by law) certain actions against the Plaintiffs– i.e., the sharing, dissemination, or other use of information unnecessarily obtained by the IRS during the determinations process (such as donor names, the names of volunteers, political affiliations of an organization’s officers, etc.) – would be unlawful. In addition, the IRS promises not to take any retaliatory action against our clients for exposing the targeting scheme.
Finally, and of crucial significance, the IRS admits it targeted conservative and Tea Party groups based on their viewpoints (i.e., “policy positions”) and that such viewpoint discrimination violates fundamental First Amendment rights. This is the first time the IRS has admitted that its targeting scheme was not just “inappropriate” – as TIGTA found – but, as our clients alleged and we have vigorously and persistently argued for years, blatantly unconstitutional.
To ensure consistency and uniformity within the agency’s operations going forward, the IRS is required, pursuant to the Order, to inform all employees within the Exempt Organizations Division, as well as the Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners within other divisions, of the Order’s terms.
This Order not only validates our clients’ allegations about their treatment at the hands of the corrupt Obama-era IRS but also provides important assurances to the American public that the agency understands its obligation to refrain from further such discriminatory conduct. As Attorney General Sessions acknowledged in this regard, “[t]here is no excuse for [the IRS’s] conduct,” as it is “without question” that the First Amendment prohibits the conduct that occurred here, i.e., subjecting American citizens to disparate treatment “based solely on their viewpoint or ideology.” Sessions further confirmed his Department’s commitment to ensuring that the “abuse of power” in which the IRS engaged here “will not be tolerated.”
It is only by the hard work of the ACLJ and the support of our members like you that we were able to achieve these victories and expose the corruption within the Obama-Biden IRS. And now we find ourselves battling the same abuse and discrimination against conservatives under President Biden. Despite the consent decree, the Biden IRS has once again set its sights on conservatives, and even specifically Christian organizations.
We recently filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to discover why a Christian organization was initially denied a tax-exempt status because it believes in the Bible and prayer. As is typical of the Biden Administration, our FOIA was ignored. That’s why we filed a MAJOR lawsuit against the Biden Administration. Ultimately that Christian organization received its tax-exempt approval, thanks to our good friends at the First Liberty Institute, but we don’t dare stop there.
As we recently reported, my dad, ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, just testified before Members of the House Ways and Means Committee over the IRS targeting of Christians and President Biden’s new attempt to spy on your bank accounts.
The Biden IRS now wants the authority to spy on your bank accounts. The $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill being debated in Congress right now includes language that would allow the IRS to investigate your bank transactions if you transact (spend and receive) more than $10,000 cumulatively over the course of a year. In this bill, the IRS would receive $80 billion and 80,000 new IRS agents, AND the power to target virtually every single American. This should be a major concern to every American, especially conservatives who know exactly how bad targeting by the IRS can be.
We must doggedly pursue this reprehensible conduct by the Biden IRS now, before it snowballs out of control again, and conservatives and faith-based organizations find themselves being targeted and discriminated against for their beliefs. We’re battling on Capitol Hill, and we’re ready to go back to court, if necessary, to defeat the IRS.
Last time we took on the IRS in court, here’s how one law professor in the Washington Post described what the once feared IRS bureaucracy was like after we were done with them: “They’ve been burned. They’ve been hammered. They’ve been bludgeoned. . . . They’re trying to survive.”
We’re ready to do it again.