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The FOID/CCL fee fund scandal: an angle for a class action lawsuit

I’m no lawyer nor am I a professional “2nd amendment fighter“ by any means. But, through simple Google searches, you can uncover stuff and have it lead to a bigger story in which the professional organizations were working on behind the scenes. No knowledge of the ISRA work was public before 12/10, and their findings added even more damaging info to the findings published on 12/2. They deserve a lot of credit, as our initial release covered the “huh, what’s going on here” aspect, and theirs covered that the funds were being diverted to other programs (Covered on page 4 here). You’ll notice the 2018 number (exact amount) was covered in our release as well.

The big picture is all of this stuff is real and it has been going on a long time. What are some potential options that we as legal Illinois gun owners have? Before getting into that and reading on, refer here for some previous court case info in regards to charging fees for exercising a constitutional right. It seems every single FOID holder in Illinois is in some form affected by the “misuse“ of the funds, in which we must pay the fees to be compliant in firearm ownership in Illinois. Some of our money was not used for its intended purpose. So, what can be done?

I’d like to present a case in which the plaintiff sued the federal government in a class action lawsuit and won. The case? The IRS charging fees for licenses for tax professionals. Stick with me.

On September 8, 2014, plaintiffs Adam Steele, Brittany Montrois, and a Class of More Than 700,000 Similarly Situated Individuals and Businesses filed a class action suit against the federal government seeking to recover allegedly unlawful license fees paid to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Nearly three years later, the plaintiffs, which then included Joseph Henchman, an attorney with the Tax Foundation, who joined Steele and Montrois, got a win after Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that all fees that the defendant has charged to class members to issue and renew a PTIN are hereby declared unlawful. The potential cost to the IRS? More than $175 million.

2.3 million FOID holders in Illinois. Keep reading.

The lawsuit stems from IRS efforts to regulate tax preparers. As part of those efforts, effective September 30, 2010, the IRS required all paid tax preparers obtain and use a preparer tax identification number (PTIN).

Does the Illinois State Police regulate all legal gun owners by giving them FOID cards? Is it required to legally own firearms In Illinois? Keep reading.

For years, the IRS has made it clear that a paid preparer may not file a return without a PTIN theres even a PTIN directory on the IRS website so that taxpayers can easily find a preparer with a valid PTIN. Think of a PTIN like a substitute Social Security Number (SSN) for tax preparers. That is what it is, more or less - since 1999, tax return preparers have been able to use a PTIN on tax returns instead of their Social Security Numbers. It was a balancing act: the IRS was trying to protect taxpayers by requiring preparers to identify themselves on returns while simultaneously protecting the individual privacy concerns of preparers. At the time, PTINs were issued for free.

Must have a FOID card, which is like a SSN for gun owners, right? Was gun ownership once free in Illinois?

The issuance of PTINs wasnt problematic. Heres what was. Beginning with the 2010 rules, PTINs not only became mandatory, they also became expensive. That year, the IRS required an initial fee of $64.25. Each year, an additional renewal fee of $63 applied. The government justified the fee by pointing to 31 U.S.C. § 9701, which permits federal agencies to charge for a service or thing of value provided by the agency.

Mandatory to have a FOID to legally own a gun, in which we have to pay for (with SB1966 going to raise those fees drastically over what they are now).

The Court eventually ruled that the IRS was authorized to issue regulations requiring the use of PTINs, finding that “the decision to require the use of PTINs was not arbitrary or capricious.” The Court also found a “rational connection” between the regulations and the stated reasons for the regulations (“effective administration and oversight”). The result is that the Court agreed that the IRS could continue to require the use of PTINs for tax preparers.

Sure, the state police can keep the FOID card, as the card itself isn’t a burden on gun owners (just takes up space in your wallet).

But the fees? The Court found that PTINs did not constitute a “service or thing of value” which would justify a fee. In fact, the Court argued that the opposite may be true: the real benefit of the PTIN “inures to the IRS, who, through the use of PTINs, may better identify and keep track of tax return preparers and the returns that they have prepared.”
As a result, the Court ruled that the IRS could require the use of PTINs by tax preparer but the IRS “may not charge fees for PTINs because this would be equivalent to imposing a regulatory licensing scheme and the IRS does not have such regulatory authority.”

So, the federal government (IRS) can’t charge fees for licensing tax preparers, but it’s ok for the state of Illinois to charge fees (and use the funds for non-related items in which previous court cases ruled that the funds collected from a licensing program for exercising a constitutional right must be used strictly for what they’re intended for)? If tax preparers can sue the federal government and win, what about the FOID holders in the state of Illinois suing the state? After all of these revelations, it seems plausible.

Not a lawyer, not legal advice, nothing other than an observation.......


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