NorCal Tea Party Patriots v Internal Revenue Service

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why was the Notice issued?
  2. What is this lawsuit about?
  3. Why is this a class action?
  4. Why is there a proposed settlement?
  5. Is my entity part of this Settlement Class?
  6. Are there exceptions to being included?
  7. What if I am still not sure if my entity is included?
  8. What does the proposed Settlement provide?
  9. How can my entity get a cash payment?
  10. When will my entity get the cash payment?
  11. What happens if my entity does nothing at all?
  12. How can my entity get out of or exclude itself from the Settlement?
  13. What is my entity giving up if it stays in the Class?
  14. If my entity excludes itself, can it still get a cash payment from the Settlement?
  15. Does my entity have a lawyer in this case?
  16. Should my entity get its own lawyer?
  17. How will the lawyers be paid?
  18. How does my entity object to the proposed Settlement?
  19. What is the difference between objecting and asking to be excluded?
  20. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the proposed Settlement?
  21. Does my entity have to come to the Fairness Hearing?
  22. May my entity speak at the Fairness Hearing?
  23. Are more details available?
  1. Why was the Notice issued?

    The Court sent you the notice because your entity has a right to know about the proposed Settlement of this class action lawsuit and about its options before the Court decides whether to approve the Settlement. If the Court approves the Settlement after any objections and appeals are resolved, an administrator appointed by the Court will make the payments that the Settlement provides. Your entity will be informed of the progress of the Settlement.

     

    The notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, your entity’s legal rights and options, what benefits are available, who is eligible for them, and how to get them.

     

    The Court in charge of this case is the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (the "Court"), and the case is known as NorCal Tea Party Patriots v. Internal Revenue Service, Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-00341. The entities who sued, called Plaintiffs or the Class Representatives, are NorCal Tea Party Patriots, South Dakota Citizens for Liberty, Inc., Americans Against Oppressive Laws, Inc., Texas Patriots Tea Party, and San Angelo Tea Party. The entity they sued, called the Defendant, is the United States of America. Sometimes the Plaintiffs and Defendant are referred to in this Notice collectively as the "Parties" or individually as "Party."

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  2. What is this lawsuit about?

    This lawsuit is about whether the IRS discriminated and retaliated against certain groups in the course of processing their Applications for Tax-Exemption under 26 U.S.C. §§ 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4). For purposes of this class action, this lawsuit is also about whether the IRS violated the taxpayer privacy statute, 26 U.S.C. § 6103, by repeatedly inspecting class members’ tax information without a lawful tax administration purpose.

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  3. Why is this a class action?

    In a class action, one or more people called "Class Representatives" (in this case NorCal Tea Party Patriots, South Dakota Citizens for Liberty, Inc., Americans Against Oppressive Laws, Inc., Texas Patriots Tea Party, and San Angelo Tea Party) have sued on behalf of other groups that have similar claims. The groups together are a "Class" or "Class Members." One court resolves the issues for everyone in the Class, except for those groups that choose to exclude themselves from the Class. U.S. District Judge Michael R. Barrett is in charge of this class action.

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  4. Why is there a proposed settlement?

    The Parties have reached a Settlement to resolve this matter without the expense and uncertainty of trial. The Court has not decided in favor of either Party, and there has been no trial. If the Court grants final approval of the proposed Settlement, the class members in this lawsuit may receive the Settlement benefits described in this Notice, if they are eligible according to the requirements of this Settlement. The Class Representatives and the Class Counsel (described more specifically in Question 16) believe that the proposed Settlement is in the best interests of the Class.

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  5. Is my entity part of this Settlement Class?

    To participate in the Settlement, if it is granted final approval by the Court, your entity must be a member of the Class. The Class is defined as:

    All entities that, at any time from February 1, 2010 to June 30, 2013, filed an Application for Recognition of Tax Exemption with the IRS under 26 U.S.C. §§ 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) and had their application flagged by the IRS as an "Advocacy" case using the criteria:

    (a) "Tea Party," "Patriots" or "9/12 Project";

    (b) government spending, government debt or taxes;

    (c) education of the public by advocacy or lobbying to "make America a better place to live"; or

    (d) criticism of how the country is being run.

     

    A list of the Principal class entities can be found on this settlement website.  Please see the Principal Class List located on the Case Documents Page.

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  6. Are there exceptions to being included?

    The proposed Settlement does not include:

    •     Any entity that does not meet the class definition;
    •     Any entity that excludes itself from the Class (see Question 12); and
    •    The judge presiding over the class action lawsuit, the Court staff, and their immediate families.

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  7. What if I am still not sure if my entity is included?

    If your entity is not sure whether it is a Class Member, or has any other questions about the proposed Settlement, visit the website, www.NorCalTeaPartyvIRS.com, or call the toll free number 1-866-666-7163. You may also send questions to Norcal v. IRS Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 8060, San Rafael, CA 94912-8060.

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  8. What does the proposed Settlement provide?

    The proposed Settlement, if finally approved, provides benefits to Class Members in the form of monetary relief. The Defendant will pay three million five hundred thousand dollars ($3,500,000.00), which will be used to pay valid claims on a pro-rata basis. The amount of monetary relief your entity may receive is based on the number of valid Claims and deductions of settlement administrator costs, attorneys’ fees and expenses, and incentive awards, as approved by the Court.

     

    Each Class Member may only submit one (1) claim. The actual amount available for each Class Member will not be determined until after the Claim Submission Deadline and may not be determined until after the Settlement is granted final approval by the Court.

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  9. How can my entity get a cash payment?

    If your entity is a Class Member and it wants to participate in this proposed Settlement, it must properly and timely submit a completed Claim Form. The Claim Form is included with this Notice and is also available online from the Settlement website.

     

    Read the Claim Form instructions carefully, and fill out the form completely.

    The Claim Form can be submitted online or by mail. If your entity chooses to submit online, it must do so by the Claim Submission Deadline. If your entity chooses to submit a hard copy by mail, the Claim Form must be postmarked by Claim Submission Deadline and mailed to:

    Norcal v. IRS Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 8060 San Rafael, CA 94912-8060.

     

    Your entity must fully complete the Claim Form and submit it by the deadline in order to receive benefits under the proposed Settlement.

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  10. When will my entity get the cash payment?

    Settlement benefits will be distributed if the Court grants final approval of the proposed Settlement and after any appeals are resolved. The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing on July 10, 2018 to decide whether to grant final approval of the proposed Settlement. If the Court grants final approval, there may be appeals. We do not know how much time it could take to resolve any appeals that may be filed. If the Court does not grant final approval of the proposed Settlement or if the proposed Settlement is not approved in any appeal that may be brought, your entity will not receive any cash payment. Please check this Settlement website for updates on the progress of the Settlement.

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  11. What happens if my entity does nothing at all?

    If your entity does nothing, it will not receive a cash payment from this proposed Settlement, and your entity will not be able to sue the United States on the basis of the legal and factual issues involved in this lawsuit or otherwise released by the Settlement Agreement and the Court’s Final Judgment and Order. Your entity must submit a valid, timely, and complete Claim Form in order to receive benefits from the proposed Settlement, or your entity must exclude itself from the proposed Settlement in order to sue the United States on the basis of the legal and factual issues involved in this lawsuit or that are released by the Settlement Agreement and the Court’s Final Judgment and Order. Settlement benefits

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  12. How can my entity get out of or exclude itself from the Settlement?

    Your entity can exclude itself from the Class and the proposed Settlement by mailing a letter, postmarked no later than May 21, 2018, to the Settlement Administrator at the following address:

    Norcal v. IRS Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 8060 San Rafael, CA 94912-8060

     

    The letter must state that your entity wants to be excluded from the Class in NorCal Tea Party Patriots v. Internal Revenue Service, Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-00341, and must include: (a) the entity’s name and contact information; (b) the name and contact information, including address and phone number, of the individual submitting the request for exclusion on behalf of the Class Member; and (c) verification that the individualsubmitting the Claim is authorized by the Class Member to submit the request for exclusion. The letter must be signed by an authorized representative of the Class Member requesting exclusion.

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  13. What is my entity giving up if it stays in the Class?

    If the Court grants final approval to the proposed Settlement, and unless your entity excludes itself, it cannot sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against the United States concerning the legal and factual issues involved in this case. It also means that all of the Court’s orders will be legally binding on the entity.

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  14. If my entity excludes itself, can it still get a cash payment from the Settlement?

    If the Court grants final approval to the proposed Settlement, and unless your entity excludes itself, it cannot sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against the United States concerning the legal and factual issues involved in this case. It also means that all of the Court’s orders will be legally binding on the entity.

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  15. Does my entity have a lawyer in this case?

    Yes. The Court decided that the law firms of Graves Garrett, LLC, Langdon Law, LLC, Finney Law Firm, LLC, and Randles & Splittgerber, LLP are qualified to represent your entity and all Class Members. They are experienced in handling class actions and claims involving constitutional law and statutory provisions. The Court has appointed those firms as counsel for the Class, called "Class Counsel." More information about these law firms, their practices, and their lawyers’ experience is available at www.gravesgarrett.com,www.langdonlaw.comwww.finneylawfirm.com, and www.randleslaw.com.

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  16. Should my entity get its own lawyer?

    Your entity does not need to hire its own lawyer because Class Counsel is working on its behalf. But, if your entity wants its own lawyer, it will have to pay that lawyer. For example, your entity can retain a lawyer to appear in Court for it if it wants someone other than Class Counsel to speak for it. If you intend to object to the proposed settlement, as described below, you will need to retain your own counsel.

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  17. How will the lawyers be paid?

    Class Counsel has prosecuted this lawsuit against the Government for more than four years. This litigation was made possible by a third-party funder, Citizens for Self-Governance ("CSG"), which has paid the attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred in the lawsuit on behalf of the Class. Class Counsel has asked the Court to reimburse CSG for a portion of the attorneys’ fees and expenses that it has expended in prosecuting this case and obtaining the Settlement benefits for the Class. Any reimbursement approved by the Court will be deducted from the Settlement Fund prior to the pro-rata disbursement for the Class Members (see Question No. 8). The application for reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and expenses has been mailed to all Class Members and is posted on the Settlement Website, www.NorCalTeaPartyvIRS.com.

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  18. How does my entity object to the proposed Settlement?

    As a Class Member, your entity has the right to file written comments or objections with the Court if there is something about the proposed Settlement that it does not like. If your entity objects, it has the right to appear at the Court’s Fairness Hearing, but it must do so through its own counsel hired at its own expense. The entity’s counsel may tell the Court why the Class Member objects to the proposed Settlement.

     

    To object to the proposed Settlement, your entity’s lawyer must file written objections with the Court by May 21, 2018, and mailed to each of the following three addresses, postmarked by May 21, 2018:

    Office of the Clerk

    United States District Court Southern District of Ohio

    Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse, Room 103

    100 E. Fifth Street

    Cincinnati, OH 45202

     

    Class Counsel

    Edward D. Greim

    Dane C. Martin

    Graves Garrett, LLC

    1100 Main Street, Suite 2700

    Kansas City, MO 64105

     

    United States Counsel

    Joseph A. Sergi

    U.S. Department of Justice,

    Tax Division

    555 4th Street, N.W.

    Washington, D.C. 20001

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  19. What is the difference between objecting and asking to be excluded?

    Objecting is telling the Court that your entity does not like something about the proposed Settlement. You can object only if your entity stays in the Class. Excluding your entity from the Class is telling the Court that it does not want to be part of the Class or participate in the proposed Settlement. If your entity excludes itself, it has no basis to object because the case no longer affects it.

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  20. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the proposed Settlement?

    The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 2:30 p.m. on July 10, 2018 at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati, 100 E. Fifth Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. Because the Fairness Hearing may be moved to a different date or time without additional individual notice, please routinely check the Settlement Website, www.NorCalTeaPartyvIRS.com, for updates.

     

    At the Fairness Hearing, the Court will consider whether the proposed Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate.  If there are objections, the Court will consider them. The Court may also decide how much to reimburse CSG and/or Class Counsel for attorneys’ fees and expenses and whether to pay the Class Representatives incentive awards for prosecuting the case on behalf of the Class. The Parties have agreed that Class Counsel may request from the Court incentive awards for the Class Representatives in the amount of up to $10,000 for each of the Class Representatives to compensate them for their time and efforts over more than four years to prosecute this lawsuit. During or after the Fairness Hearing, the Court will decide whether to grant final approval of the proposed Settlement. We do not know how long it will take for the Court to make these decisions.

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  21. Does my entity have to come to the Fairness Hearing?

    The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 2:30 p.m. on July 10, 2018 at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati, 100 E. Fifth Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. Because the Fairness Hearing may be moved to a different date or time without additional individual notice, please routinely check the Settlement Website, www.NorCalTeaPartyvIRS.com, for updates.

     

    At the Fairness Hearing, the Court will consider whether the proposed Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. The Court may also decide how much to reimburse CSG and/or Class Counsel for attorneys’ fees and expenses and whether to pay the Class Representatives incentive awards for prosecuting the case on behalf of the Class. The Parties have agreed that Class Counsel may request from the Court incentive awards for the Class Representatives in the amount of up to $10,000 for each of the Class Representatives to compensate them for their time and efforts over more than four years to prosecute this lawsuit. During or after the Fairness Hearing, the Court will decide whether to grant final approval of the proposed Settlement. We do not know how long it will take for the Court to make these decisions.

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  22. May my entity speak at the Fairness Hearing?

    Yes, your entity may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing, but only through your own counsel and only if your entity has timely and properly filed a written objection. To ask for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing, your entity must retain counsel and have that counsel send a letter to the Court saying that it is your entity’s "Notice of Intention to Appear" in NorCal Tea Party Patriots v. Internal Revenue Service, Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-00341 and telling the Court that your entity plans to attend the Fairness Hearing through counsel and would like permission to speak during the Hearing. Your Notice of Intention to Appear must be filed with the Court and mailed with a postmark no later than May 21, 2018 to the Clerk of the Court, Class Counsel, and United States Counsel, at the following addresses:

    

    Office of the Clerk

    United States District Court Southern District of Ohio

    Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse, Room 103

    100 E. Fifth Street

    Cincinnati, OH 45202

     

    Class Counsel

    Edward D. Greim

    Dane C. Martin

    Graves Garrett, LLC

    1100 Main Street, Suite 2700

    Kansas City, MO 64105

     

    United States Counsel

    Joseph A. Sergi

    U.S. Department of Justice,

    Tax Division

    555 4th Street, N.W.

    Washington, D.C. 20001

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  23. Are more details available?

    These answers provide a summary of the proposed Settlement. More details are available on this  Settlement website, www.NorCalTeaPartyvIRS.com, where you will find the Notice of Class Action Settlement, the Settlement Agreement, the Amended Petition filed by Class Counsel, the Claim Form, and the Court’s Order Granting Preliminary Approval of the Class Action Settlement. Updates regarding the case will be posted on the Settlement website. You may also write with questions to Norcal v. IRS Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 8060, San Rafael, CA 94912-8060.

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