New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit on Monday against President Donald Trump’s Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Per The Hill, the suit claims that both agencies have failed to respond to information requests regarding the Trump administration’s scrapping of an IRS rule that requires some tax-exempt organizations to reveal their donors.
“My office depends on these critical donor disclosure forms to be able to adequately oversee non-profit organizations in New York,” said James, who filed the lawsuit alongside New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
“Not only was this policy change made without notice, the Treasury and the IRS are now refusing to comply with the law to release information about the rationale for these changes. No one is above the law — not even the federal government — and we will use every tool to ensure they comply with these regulations to provide transparency and accountability.”
The lawsuit is just one example of a recent wave of Democratic state attorneys suing the Trump administration. James, who took office early this year, made it clear from the beginning that she was dead-set on pursuing legal action against the president’s policies and business dealings.
Back in July 2018, the Treasury and IRS released guidance that removes the requirement for certain tax-exempt groups to disclose the names and addresses of major donors on annual forms. Groups that no longer have to provide this information include the American Civil Liberties Union and National Rifle Association, along with other 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced that her office has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Treasury Department and the IRS for failing to respond to legally mandated records requests. https://t.co/Ou3m0Dy3SJ— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 6, 2019
The Trump administration defended the decision as protection against taxpayers’ privacy and a move to stop them from being singled out for political beliefs in an increasingly hostile U.S. political landscape. On the other side of the spectrum, Democrats in Congress claim the guidance makes it easier for foreign governments to funnel “dark money” into groups to influence U.S. politics.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the IRS doesn’t need regular information on donor identities to administer the tax code, per The Hill. He suggests that Americans shouldn’t need to send the IRS information that isn’t necessary to enforce tax laws, and added that it “does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area.”
Although the IRS has no immediate comment on the lawsuit, they have partially produced the information requested by the attorney generals. According to the lawsuit, the attorneys general haven’t had independent communication with Treasury’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) since October.