After many delays and denials, the Obama administration is finally releasing thousands of long-sought Internal Revenue Service (IRS) documents that may shed light on whether the IRS shared confidential tax information with the White House and whether the agency was used by the administration to target political opponents.
On Monday, the office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed the government-watchdog group Cause of Action that it had “located 2,500 potentially responsive documents” related to the organization’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request concerning TIGTA’s investigation of 2010 remarks by then-Council of Economic Advisers chairman Austan Goolsbee suggesting that Goolsbee had intimate knowledge of a corporation’s tax returns. Specifically, Goolsbee told reporters that “Koch Industries” was one of “a series of entities that do not pay corporate income tax.”
After a Koch Industries attorney told the Weekly Standard “that the administration may have crossed a line by revealing tax information about Koch Industries,” the White House quickly denied that Goolsbee had obtained his information from tax returns. Rather than settle the matter, the denial, which seemed to contain additional information discernible solely from tax returns, only added fuel to the fire. Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee asked TIGTA to investigate the matter; TIGTA agreed to do so.
An August 2011 e-mail from Treasury Special Agent Daniel Carney indicated that the investigation had been completed, but the report was not released to the public, the senators who had requested the investigation, or Koch Industries. Although the e-mail stated that the report could be obtained via a FOIA request, the administration refused to release it to Koch Industries on four separate occasions, once even saying it could neither confirm nor deny that the report had been compiled.