IRS Queried on Tax Info Leak

by Darrin Mish, Tampa Tax Attorney
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The IRS has been asked to investigate allegations of someone from the inside leaking confidential tax files of an anti-gay marriage group. Both the Huffington Post and gay rights group The Human Rights Campaign published a list of donors in 2008 to the National Organization for Marriage (the anti-gay marriage group). Among the donors listed was Mitt Romney.

The National Organization for Marriage alleges that someone from the IRS divulged the list to the Human Rights Campaign. Senator Orrin Hatch (R – Utah) wrote a letter to IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman expressing his dissatisfaction on the issue, claiming that "evidence suggests that the IRS may have been the source of the unauthorized disclosure of donor information.” Senator Hatch describes this allegation as “disturbing” and says he views this matter “with the utmost seriousness”.

In his letter, Senator Hatch wrote, “Our political history shows the absolute necessity of maintaining the nonpartisan integrity of the IRS,” while calling for an investigation to be carried out.

The IRS has no comments about whether an investigation will be carried out but stressed they do not take this matter lightly. In a statement to FoxNews.com, IRS spokesman Dean Patterson said last month that the "IRS takes this confidentiality of return information very seriously" and that "any allegations of improper disclosures of taxpayer information are investigated by the Treasury Inspector General."

The Human Rights Campaign has used the information as fodder in allegations against Mitt Romney, claiming that Romney was "essentially funding NOM's strategy of using racial division and unfounded scare tactics to attack LGBT (lesbians, gays, bi-sexual and transgender) equality."

But the Human Rights Campaign has refuted the claim by the National Organization of Marriage that they obtained inside information from the IRS regarding the donor list. Describing the NOM allegation as “absolutely false”, the group said the information on the Romney donation was freely available from other sources – including in a filing for Romney PAC's Alabama chapter – before the Human Rights Campaign published it.

The donation was in connection with the National Organization of Marriage’s support of the Proposition 8 measure that bans gay marriages in California. In response to this issue, the President of the National Organization of Marriage, Brian Brown said while the NOM never tried to hide the information about Romney, the tax form listing donations of at least $5,000 is meant to be confidential because the other donors on the list could be subject to intimidation if the contents of the list was made used for wrong purposes.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Darrin Mish, Tampa Tax Attorney, The Law Offices of Darrin Mish, P.A. | Attorney Advertising

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