Dear IRS - apple pies ain't apples

We’ve received the IRS ruling on our FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) appeal.apples

A little background will be fruitful:

  1. Back in August, we requested that the IRS provide computer-readable data (like in a spreadsheet) from 10 charity returns (let’s use “apples” to refer to data in that format).
  2. In our August request, we make it clear that data presented as images of returns would not be acceptable (let’s use “apple pies” to refer to data presented as images).
  3. Data presented as image files (apple pies) is not suitable for processing by computer systems, and requires users to expend significant resources to acquire the images and extract data from the images. It’s like undoing an apple pie to reconstruct the apples.
  4. Computer-readable data (apples) can be readily searched and analyzed with everyday computers and software.
  5. In September, we heard back from the IRS. They told us we could order apple pies. They sent along the apple pie ordering form. They didn’t offer any apples.
  6. Later in September, we appealed, again requesting apples.

On October 22, we received the IRS ruling on our appeal. After laying out a confusing / confused description of what we had requested, the IRS said (in effect)apple pie

  • The September denial was appropriate, because that denial had offered us apple pies. It even sent along the apple pie ordering form.
  • Since they offered us apple pies, they did not deny our August request.
  • Since they did not deny our August request, there was no basis for us to appeal.
  • Since there was no basis for us to appeal, they are closing the file.

Clearly the IRS does not understand that apple pies ain’t apples.

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