IRS FOIA Status Reports 15-16

Emma Best filed this request with the Internal Revenue Service of the United States of America.
Tracking # F-17038-0001
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Michael Best

To Whom It May Concern:

By the power vested in me under the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

A copy of the internal periodic status reports for the IRS FOIA Program during calendar years 2015 and 2016.

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Michael Best

From: Eyetsemitan Francisca N

February 14, 2017

Michael Best
Dept MR 32657
411A Highland Ave
Somerville, MA 02144-2516

Dear Michael Best:

I am responding to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated January 31, 2017 that we received on February 6, 2017.

Your request asks for "a copy of each FOIA request for Donald J. Trump's tax .return information, received at the since January. NOTE: This request does not seek any tax return information, simply the FOIA requests for Such information and under the law FOIA requests are public information."

Unfortunately, we are unable to process your request as it does not meet the requirements of the FOIA or the applicable agency regulations. The FOIA requires that requests (1) "reasonably describe" the records sought and (2) be made in accordance with published agency rules. 5 U.S.C § 552(a)(3)(A). IRS regulations at Treas. Reg. § 601.702(c)(5)(i), require that the request describe the documents in sufficient detail to enable us to locate the records "without placing an unreasonable burden upon the IRS."

A request for "a copy of each FOIA request for Donald J. Trump's tax .return information, received at the since January " is unclear, over an unspecified time period, and is unreasonably burdensome for the IRS to process, given the number of documents that might meet this description, as well as the fact that many such documents and materials would likely span all business units of the IRS.

Courts have agreed that requests of the type you have submitted seeking "any and all" records without reference to subject matter or time frame is not valid. See, for example, Dale v. IRS, 238 F. Supp. 2d 99, 104-05 (D.D.C. 2002), where the court held that request seeking "'any and all documents . . . that refer or relate in any way'" to requester failed to reasonably describe records sought and "amounted to an all-encompassing fishing expedition of files . . . at taxpayer expense."

We encourage you to consider revising your request, possibly by making it much more specific as to subject matter, business units, and specifying particular dates that might include the documents you are seeking.

You may find it helpful to consult the IRS organizational structure on irs.gov at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Today's-IRS-Organization.

If you have any questions please call me, ID # 1000591343, at 617-316-2271, or write to: Internal Revenue Service, Centralized Processing Unit - Stop 211, P.O. Box 621506, Atlanta, GA 30362. Please refer to case number F17038-0002..

Sincerely,

[W-DO-12-FRANCISCAS]

Francisca Eyetsemitan
Tax Law Specialist
Disclosure West (OS:P:GLDS:D:W:DO12)
Privacy, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure
15 New Sudbury Street, Government Plaza, 08-0092,
Boston, MA 02203-0002. ID # 1000591343
Ph: (617) 316-2271;

From: Eyetsemitan Francisca N

Eyetsemitan Francisca N would like to recall the message, "F17038-0002- FOIA Request".

From: Michael Best

"Courts have agreed that requests of the type you have submitted seeking "any and all" records without reference to subject matter or time frame is not valid. " I am seeking a specific type of record from a specific office, on a specific subject matter. Further, I provided a very specific time frame - from January 2017 to the present. Therefore, your finding is inappropriate and I request you either reconsider or apprise me of my right to appeal your adverse decision.

Further, you cited the incomplete case law. If you wish I suppose we can debate the merits of that (as I have successfully in the past), but even the out of context parts that you _did_ cite do not apply to my request.

From: Michael Best

Correction -

Due to an error on my end "Further, I provided a very specific time frame - from January 2017 to the present" was mistyped. It should have said "during the years 2015 and 2016."

From: Eyetsemitan Francisca N

Hi Mr. Best:

I sent you an email so that we can quickly clarify the request. You did not state a specific time frame. Also, you wrote “received at… No location. Please correct these issues as soon as possible if you still wish that we proceed.

Thanks so much for your attention to the matter

Francisca Eyetsemitan
Tax Law Specialist
Disclosure West (OS:P:GLDS:D:W:DO12)
Privacy, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure
15 New Sudbury Street, Government Plaza, 08-0092,
Boston, MA 02203-0002. ID # 1000591343
Ph: (617) 316-2271

From: Michael Best

We may be talking about different requests. The request I filed and assigned to the box that you're responding to was for "A copy of the internal periodic status reports for the IRS FOIA Program during calendar years 2015 and 2016."

From: Michael Best

It seems our emails crossed paths, a response went to the incorrect box and was then recalled. I apologize for that. Additionally, you're correct - there was an error in my initial submission! (Egg on my face!)

Regarding the request you're inquiring about, it should have read "a copy of each FOIA request for Donald J. Trump's tax return information, received by the IRS since January 2017."

That was an awful edit error, and I apologize for my confusion.

From: Eyetsemitan Francisca N

Thanks so much Mr. Best for clarifying your request. I will proceed with the processing.

Have a good rest of the day.

Francisca Eyetsemitan
Tax Law Specialist
Disclosure West (OS:P:GLDS:D:W:DO12)
Privacy, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure
15 New Sudbury Street, Government Plaza, 08-0092,
Boston, MA 02203-0002. ID # 1000591343
Ph: (617) 316-2271; E-Fax (855) 205-9334.

From: Michael Best

You too, and I'm sorry about the confusion earlier. Thank you for bearing with me.

From: Eyetsemitan Francisca N

It is ok, Mr. Best.

I am glad we could resolve it.

Francisca Eyetsemitan
Tax Law Specialist
Disclosure West (OS:P:GLDS:D:W:DO12)
Privacy, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure
15 New Sudbury Street, Government Plaza, 08-0092,
Boston, MA 02203-0002. ID # 1000591343
Ph: (617) 316-2271;

From: Internal Revenue Service

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: Internal Revenue Service

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

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