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The gathering storm: An IRS defeat

| Sunday, April 19, 2015, 9:00 p.m.

Attempting to obscure the extent of its alleged targeting of conservative groups, the Internal Revenue Service has been smacked with a serious setback in its court fight in Ohio.

A federal judge granted a motion compelling the IRS to list the 298 targeted organizations, which the IRS had identified for the Treasury Department inspector general. In a lawsuit filed in 2013, 10 conservative groups, through discovery, have been trying to pry free the list of all groups targeted by the IRS. This, in order to seek class certification and expand the lawsuit to “all the organizations on (ex-IRS official) Lois Lerner's hit list,” writes Hans von Spakovsky of The Heritage Foundation.

The IRS and the Justice Department had tried to keep a lid on this boiling pot by arguing that a federal statute protects the confidentiality of tax-return information. But had Justice lawyers more carefully read the law, they would have found that the statute includes an exemption for tax information “directly related to an issue in” a judicial proceeding, according to Judge Susan Dlott. The identities of all targeted organizations are directly related to this case, she said.

As a result, the IRS has been ordered to turn over all charts, lists and spreadsheets of groups that had tax-exemption applications “flagged” by the IRS.

The discernible rumbling of distant thunder portends the gathering storm that is going to rain down on the IRS.

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