Today, the Free State Project announced that it has joined a class action lawsuit against the IRS for illegally targeting libertarian-leaning nonprofit organizations seeking tax-exempt status. Last week, after a unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the Cincinnati-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit "slammed" the IRS in a "blistering rebuke," the agency was forced to turn over a list of organizations it unfairly targeted. The Free State Project received a court notice that it is a member of that class.
"The NorCal Tea Party Patriots sued the IRS in 2013 after a Treasury inspector general concluded the IRS had unfairly singled out for extra scrutiny conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status," reported Fox News. But since then "the lawsuit has progressed as slowly as the underlying applications themselves: at every turn the IRS has resisted the plaintiffs’ requests for information regarding the IRS’s treatment of the plaintiff class, eventually to the open frustration of the district court,” the judges claimed in court documents.
The court's angry reprimand is in response to the IRS’s writ of mandamus: “The district court ordered production of those lists, and did so again over an IRS motion to reconsider. Yet, almost a year later, the IRS still has not complied with the court’s orders. Instead the IRS now seeks from this court a writ of mandamus, an extraordinary remedy reserved to correct only the clearest abuses of power by a district court,” Judge Raymond Kethledge wrote. “We deny the petition.”
The Washington Post described it as an "unusually severe tongue-lashing," while the Wall Street Journal said the judges "excoriated" the IRS with statements like: “Among the most serious allegations a federal court can address are that an Executive agency has targeted citizens for mistreatment based on their political views. No citizen — Republican or Democrat, socialist or libertarian — should be targeted or even have to fear being targeted on those grounds. Yet those are the grounds on which the plaintiffs allege they were mistreated by the IRS here. The allegations are substantial: most are drawn from findings made by the Treasury Department’s own Inspector General for Tax Administration."
The Free State Project received 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in 2014.