The public interest law firm New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) filed an opening brief in the James Harper v. Charles P. Rettig. The NCLA maintains that the constitutional rights of Harper’s Fourth and Fifth Amendments have been violated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The U.S. tax agency is accused of obtaining Harper’s information from crypto asset exchanges without valid subpoenas or statutory limitations.
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The NCLA has revealed that it has filed an opening brief in the James Harper v. Charles P. Rettig before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The NCLA is a non-partisan, not-for-profit civil rights entity and public interest law firm that aims to protect constitutional freedoms from violations by the government.
The case involves a man named James Harper who has filed a lawsuit against the IRS, the 49th commissioner of the US tax agency Charles Rettig and 10 “IRS agents John Doe”. The NCLA and Harper argue that the IRS took Harper’s financial information without “reasonable suspicion and without a judicial warrant.”
“Harper plausibly pleaded that [the] The IRS violated its constitutional and statutory rights, ”the civil rights organization said briefly.
It all started in 2019 when the IRS sent Harper a letter stating that he had not “correctly reported” his “transactions involving virtual currency.” The IRS also issued a press release that summer that revealed that 10,000 U.S. cryptocurrency owners had received a letter from the tax agency. The letters were sent to taxpayers who “participated in virtual currency transactions or did not correctly report past transactions,” the IRS noted.
“Taxpayers should take these letters very seriously,” IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said in the press release.
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The NCLA and Harper are hoping the Court of Appeal will allow oral argument in the case. The Civil Liberties law firm believes wholeheartedly that this case affects the constitutional rights of the plaintiff. “This case raises important legal questions as to whether sovereign immunity for US law societies is suitable for challenging illegal government information-gathering practices and whether an injunction or declaratory order is available in such situations,” underlines the opening brief of the NCLA.
Caleb Kruckenberg, an NCLA member legal adviser, said he believed the First Circuit could resolve this situation. “Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the IRS could not block lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of its behavior by hiding behind the anti-injunction law,” Kruckenberg said in a statement to Bitcoin.com News. “Unfortunately, this decision came after the district court allowed the IRS to abuse the law in this way. According to the Supreme Court, however, this case is child’s play and the First Circuit should quickly reinstate this trial. “
Adi Dynar, a member of the NCLA litigation board, said the IRS did not have sufficient reason to “say the information it has” can be obtained without due process. Dynar says that if the IRS took the proper procedures, it could result in the assessment or collection of taxes. “But the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution do not contain an IRS exception,” Dynar said in a statement. The NCLA’s opening brief describes how the IRS violated Harper’s rights and obtained his financial information from third parties.
“[The] The IRS’s actions violated fundamental constitutional protections of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, ”the NCLA said, opening brief details. “Assuming the IRS took his information from one or more exchanges, Mr. Harper’s contracts recognized that his data is his property, not that of the exchanges, and provided him with a reasonable expectation of confidentiality of his personal information. The contracts made it clear that he had not voluntarily waived his Fourth Amendment rights when doing business with them. The IRS entered his information without due process. The NCLA added:
The IRS has not provided Mr. Harper with any notice or opportunity to challenge his illegal collection of information. This lack of due process violates the due process guarantee of the Fifth Amendment. The IRS’s third-party collection of Mr. Harper’s information is also a Fourth Amendment violation against Mr. Harper because she seized his personal papers without a warrant. The IRS also failed to protect Mr. Harper’s statutory rights when he obtained his personal papers from third parties.
The NCLA brief notes that the IRS should have its interests aligned with Harper’s rights and that the tax agency should have obtained the documents in accordance with the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. “The Court should find that the district court has jurisdiction in the matter and that Mr. Harper has made a claim on which relief can be granted,” concludes the NCLA’s opening brief.
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