Sunday, June 08, 2014

Pro-Marriage Group Entitled To Actual Damages For Erroneous IRS Release of Donor Data

In National Organization for Marriage, Inc. v. United States, (ED VA, June 3, 2014), a non-profit organization whose purpose is "to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it" sued the federal government under 26 USC Sec. 7431 for damages growing out of the IRS's unauthorized release in 2011 of Schedule B of the organization's Form 990. Schedule B lists donors of over $5000 to the organization and should have been redacted before releasing the Form 990 in response to a media request.  The Schedule B was ultimately published by the Huffington Post along with an article focusing on the fact that it showed a $10,000 donation by a political action committee associated with Mitt Romney. The court held that plaintiff is entitled to actual damages, but not to punitive damages for willful disclosure or gross negligence.  The court also dismissed plaintiff's unauthorized inspection claim.