THE FOUNDING CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY OR WASHINGTON, D.C., INC., Plaintiff,
DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, et al., Defendants.
Civil Action No. 78-0107.
United States District Court; D. Columbia.
May 1, 1984.
Jeffrey B. O'toole, Esq. Anthony P. Bisceglie, Esq. 1000 16th St., N.W., Suite
511 Wash., D.C. 20036, for plaintiff.
Lawrence A. Moloney, Esq. U.S. Dept of Justice Wash., D.C. 20530, for
GREEN, District Judge.
*1 Plaintiff, the Founding Church of Scientology of Washington, D.C., Inc.,
filed this action in 1978 on behalf of itself and a purported (and now
conditionally certified) class of all churches and missions of Scientology in
the United States. The complaint alleges that eight federal agency defendants
have engaged in illegal law enforcement practices and information-gathering
activities violative of the First, Fourth, Fifth an Ninth Amendment rights of
class members. [FN1] Plaintiff seeks a declaration that the activities
complained of violated plaintiff's constitutional rights, an injunction
prohibiting defendants from continuing the alleged activities, and a writ of
mandamus compelling defendants to produce documents for destruction. [FN2]
Currently before the Court is the motion of defendant Department of Treasury
on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ('defendant') for judgment on
the pleadings to dismiss the complaint insofar as it relates to the IRS.
Defendant asserts that in the absence of a duty on its part to produce the
subject documents for destruction, plaintiff's claim for a writ of mandamus
must be dismissed. Although plaintiff does not satisfactorily respond to this
challenge, as the requested relief is within the equity powers of the Court,
plaintiff's request for a writ of mandamus shall be viewed as one for a
Defendant further asserts that plaintiff's claims for declaratory and
injunctive relief against the IRS are barred by the tax exception to the
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. s 2201 (1982) and the Tax Anti-
Injunction Act, 26 U.S.C. s 7421(a) (Supp. 1984) and that this Court therefore
lacks subject matter jurisdiction over them. Because the Declaratory Judgment
Act's prohibition against a declaration of the rights of parties 'with respect
to Federal taxes' limits relief which may be granted but has no jurisdictional
effect, it need not be addressed at this time. See State of South Carolina
v. Regan, ---- U.S. ----, 104 S. Ct. 1107, 1126 n. 16 (1984). As to the claims
for injunctive relief, plaintiff argues that the nature of this action, that
is, a complaint to vindicate constitutional rights unrelated to tax liability,
does not trigger the operation of the Tax Anti-Injunction Act.
In pertinent part, the Tax Anti-Injunction Act provides that 'no suit for the
purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be
maintained in any court . . .' 26 U.S.C. s 7421(a); State of South
Carolina v. Regan, 104 S.Ct. at 1111. Although the Act has no recorded
legislative history, its accepted purpose is to protect the government's need
to assess and collect taxes as expeditiously as possible with a minimum of pre-
enforcement interference, 'and to require that the legal right to the disputed
sums be determined in a suit for refund.' Bob Jones University v. Simon, 416
U.S. 725, 736 (1974) (quoting Enochs v. Williams Packing & Navigation Co.,
370 U.S. 1, 7 (1962)).
Against that backdrop, defendant contends that because a grant of the relief
requested by plaintiff would hinder defendant in the investigative aspects of
its task of collecting and assessing taxes, plaintiff's complaint must be
dismissed to the extent that it is directed against the IRS. Drawing support
from authority applying the Act to a broad range of activities 'which are
intended to or may culminate in the asessment or collection of taxes', see
United States v. Dema, 544 F.2d 1373, 1376 (7th Cir. 1976), cert. denied,
429 U.S. 1093 (1977), defendant argues that the IRS activities which are the
subject of this lawsuit cannot be enjoined.
*2 However, this case does not turn on the nature of the activities
allegedly practiced by defendant, as the threshold requirement of the Act
remains unsatisfied: defendant has not shown that plaintiff's purpose in
bringing this lawsuit is in any way related to taxes. See Linn v. Chivatero,
714 F.2d 1278, 1282 (5th Cir. 1983); see also Bob Jones University v. Simon,
416 U.S. at 2046 (expressly rejecting plaintiff's claim of purpose unrelated to
tax, in view of plaintiff's allegations that it would be subject to substantial
tax liability if defendant prevailed and supporting affidavit stressing
detrimental effect to plaintiff of such tax liability). Indeed, plaintiff
maintains that this action, unlike the cases upon which defendant relies, was
instituted not to challenge any specific tax liability but to vindicate
constitutional rights independent of plaintiff's rights as a taxpayer. In
plaintiff's view, the identity of the IRS is incidental to the cause of action,
and the multiplicity of defendants to which plaintiff's complaint is directed
supports that position.
Defendant does not directly challenge plaintiff's assertion that its
motivations are entirely unrelated to taxes but rather sidesteps the statute's
'purpose' language and focuses on the effect of a grant of injunctive relief on
the functions of the IRS. Without question, effects are more readily
discernible than is a plaintiff's motive in instituting a lawsuit. However,
defendant's approach would shield the IRS not only from those plaintiffs
seeking to thwart the tax collection process but also from litigants who do not
sue as aggrieved taxpayers and to whom the availability of a tax refund suit
means little. The protective purpose of the Act does not require total
insulation of the IRS from accountability for its actions, and, in this Court's
view, such a result would be untenable. See Linn v. Chivatero, 714 F.2d at
As the record before the Court does not reflect that the purpose of this
action is to restrain the collection or assessment of any tax, and as defendant
has not shown that plaintiff mischaracterizes its purpose to the Court,
defendant's motion shall be denied. No ruling on the merits of the parties'
claims is implied by this decision, and if, at some later stage of these
proceedings, evidence of an ulterior purpose should emerge, there is nothing to
preclude the revival of defendant's motion. Until such time, if any,
plaintiff's access to this forum to litigate its claims against defendant IRS
is not barred by the Tax Anti-Injunction Act.
Accordingly, it is, this 30th day of April, 1984 ORDERED that the motion of
defendant Department of Treasury for judgment on the pleadings to dismiss the
complaint against the Internal Revenue Service shall be and it hereby is
FN1 For the purposes of this motion, the parties focus on the following
allegations of wrongdoing:
'(1) defendant's compilation, maintenance, and dissemination of dossiers,
purported intelligence reports and files concerning the Church's
constitutionally protected activities not subject to legitimate
governmental interest [Complaint at PP16, 17];
(2) defendant's compilation, maintenance and dissemination of unverified,
derogatory and intentionally misleading information on the Church and its
members which formed the basis for extensive surveillance, harassement, and
the blacklisting of the Churches and members of Scientology [Complaint
at PP18-20]; and
(3) defendant's arbitrary and illegal establishment of a policy of
blacklisting the Church by inclusion on such lists as the ideological and
activists organization's list prepared and maintained by the Internal
Revenue Service at the direction of the Secretary of Treasury for the
purpose of punishing selected organizations for the expression of their
beliefs [Complaint at P23].
FN2 Plaintiff's claims for monetary damages were previously dismissed.
Order of October 19, 1978.