United States District Court, District of Columbia
ROSEMARY M. COLLYER United States District Judge
Agrama filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking
records from the Internal Revenue Service concerning a
penalty examination undertaken by IRS into Mr. Agrama's
tax payments. See Compl. [Dkt. 1] ¶¶ 5-8.
with the IRS response, Mr. Agrama has sued. The IRS now moves
for summary judgment in its favor, arguing that it has met
its FOIA obligations. Upon review of the entire record, the
Court agrees and will grant the motion, entering judgment in
favor of IRS.
Mr. Agrama's FOIA Request
Agrama is an individual American citizen residing in Los
Angeles, California. Compl. ¶ 3. IRS, a constituent
agency of the United States Department of Treasury, is
headquartered in Washington, D.C. On February 12, 2016, Mr.
Agrama submitted a FOIA request to IRS requesting “each
and every document (exclusive of the filed tax [sic] income
tax returns) contained in the administrative files of the
Internal Revenue Service relating to Form 5471 proposed
penalty liabilities of Frank Agrama . . . for taxable years
1982-2014.” Compl. Ex. B, FOIA Disclosure Request [Dkt.
1-2] at 1. Mr. Agrama listed several illustrative categories
of information sought, including, inter alia,
Examination Division Administrative files related to any
audits; any and all documents received or otherwise requested
pursuant to any U.S. tax treaty; and documents maintained
electronically. See Id. at 1-2. IRS received Mr.
Agrama's request on February 18, 2016, and assigned it to
Cheri Rossi, a Disclosure Specialist. See IRS Mot.
Summ. J (IRS MSJ) Ex. C, Rossi Decl. [Dkt. 12-3] ¶¶
Mr. Agrama's request concerned an individual taxpayer,
IRS began its search for responsive documents by searching
its Integrated Data Retrieval System (IDRS), which is a
database that manages data retrieved from IRS's Master
File, the IRS's nationwide electronic information system
containing taxpayer account information. Id.
¶¶ 8, 9. Searching this database, Ms. Rossi used a
number of commands in conjunction with Mr. Agrama's
unique taxpayer identification number. Id.
¶¶ 10, 11. Her search identified open examinations
being conducted by two IRS Revenue Agents for tax years 1997
to 2009, and 2011. Id. ¶ 9. Records associated
with these examinations were collected and reviewed, and
responsive, non-exempt records were produced to Mr. Agrama in
the fall of 2016. IRS MSJ Ex. D, Valvardi Decl. [Dkt. 12-4]
released a total of 3, 708 pages to Mr. Agrama, constituting
1, 537 individual records. Id. ¶ 11. Of these,
3, 590 pages were released entirely and 118 were released in
part. Id. IRS withheld in full 1, 055 pages, the
contents of which are described in its affidavits submitted
to this Court. See generally Id. IRS also withheld a
total of 15, 150 records-the total page number also
withheld-related to its ongoing penalty examination, as well
as ongoing examinations of other taxpayers. See Id.
Agrama filed this lawsuit on April 15, 2016. See
Compl. Discussions between the parties continued during this
period, and, as previously stated, records responsive to Mr.
Agrama's request were produced several months later,
beginning in September 2016. Valvardi Decl. ¶ 10. The
production concluded by December 2016, and in February 2017
IRS filed its Motion for Summary Judgment. IRS MSJ [Dkt. 12].
Mr. Agrama opposed this Motion, Pl.'s Opp'n [Dkt.
16], and the IRS replied, IRS Reply [Dkt. 18]. The IRS also
submitted an in camera affidavit and addendum brief
to the Court to provide further justification for its
decision to withhold the 15, 150 records related to the
ongoing penalty examination. See IRS Notice of
Compliance [Dkt. 19]. The matter is now ripe for the
VENUE AND JURISDICTION
552(a)(4)(B) of the U.S. Code grants subject matter
jurisdiction over all actions brought under FOIA, and makes
this an appropriate forum for venue purposes. 5 U.S.C. §
552(a)(4)(B) (2012) (“On complaint, the district court
of the United States in the district in which the complainant
resides, or has his principal place of business, or in which
the agency records are situated, or in the District of
Columbia, has jurisdiction to enjoin the agency from
withholding agency records and to order the production of any
agency records improperly withheld from the
complainant.”); see Jones v. Nuclear Regulatory
Comm'n, 654 F.Supp. 130, 131 (D.D.C. 1987).
Court's jurisdiction under FOIA extends only to claims
arising from the improper withholding of agency records.
See 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B); see also
Lazaridis v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 713 F.Supp.2d
64, 66 (D.D.C. 2010) (citing McGehee v. CIA, 697
F.2d 1095, 1105 (D.C. Cir. 1983)).