McConnell: IRS Needs to be Reined In

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015, 4:37 PM PERMALINK


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell concluded ATR’s annual tax press conference with a strong call to rein in the IRS and the Obama administration, which “believes that pursuit of their objectives justifies almost any way of doing it.”

The full text of McConnell’s remarks are below:

“Let me lead off by thanking you for the great work ATR has done over the years in keeping the issue of the IRS and tax reform front and center. It sure needs to be kept front and center, given the behavior of the current administration over the last six years.

Not only has the President succeeded in raising a lot of taxes, you have the -- the issue of the agency itself selectively targeting the President's political adversaries with audits and the like. This is an agency that needs to be reined in. As long as we have the agency, it ought to be a benign tax collector, not a pursuer of any administration's political adversaries.

Now that we're in the majority in both the House and Senate, I fully expect both the Ways and Means and -- Committees and the Finance Committee to continue to pursue these examples of abuse. But I'm going to say this, any effort by the President to kind of put it off on the agency doesn't work. In fact, when they were targeting Tea Party groups, the administration was actually publicly asking them to do what they did. And, if I were being pursued by a prosecutor and I worked at IRS, I think my first defense would be, well, you know the President was saying this is what we ought to do. And as Senator Durbin and others were saying, 'this is what we ought to do.'

So I think we have an administration here that believes that pursuit of their objectives justifies almost any way of doing it.

And so there's been no organization in our country who's kept the issue of high taxes and IRS abuse more in the public eye than ATR. And so, Grover, I wanted to come by and thank you for what you all are doing. Let's keep it up. Hopefully, in the next few years we can begin to slim down the size of government and get taxes lowered once again. Thanks a lot."

 

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Fred Chittenden

That's a laugh -- Mitch and his fellow RINOsaurs have just figured this out?

How many more decades before these Crony RINOsaurs actually get something done on fixing the tax code that they helped make so complicated.

Oldtaxpayer1001

Yes. Reform should start by replacing the IRS with a simple fair tax. Kill the IRS for good for a free America.


Sen. Mike Lee Calls for Aggressively Pro-Growth Tax Reform

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015, 4:26 PM PERMALINK


At an Americans for Tax Reform press conference in the U.S. Capitol, conservative hero Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) called attention to the tax burden faced by Americans and called for “aggressively pro-growth” tax reform. Sen. Lee noted that Americans “work three or four months out of every year just to pay their tax bills.” 

In introducing Sen. Lee, ATR president Grover Norquist spoke of taxation’s role in the founding of our country: "Before the country was founded in 1774, we were paying 1 to 2 percent of our income in taxes. This was considered outrageous, they were thinking of moving maybe to 3% and the guns came out and we told the British to leave. They, by the way, were paying 20 percent in London. The guys in London were paying 20 percent in order to repress us and tell us what to do and we paid 1 to 2 percent.

Since then, there's been some backsliding and I'm going to ask Senator Mike Lee to come explain why we went from 1 to 2 percent up to about 30 percent of our income being taken, and what are we going to do about it because something needs to be done. This has not been moving in the right direction for a while."

Senator Lee said: "Thank you, very much, Grover. I appreciate your leadership on this as well as that of ATR, the House Ways and Means Committee, and also the Senate Finance Committee. But we live in a country that has, as you referred to, increasingly been overrun by tax burden. On the eve of tax day, we see our tax freedom day going further and further into the year. We see Americans working three or four months out of every year just to pay their tax bills. This was not always the case, as you pointed out, that from the founding, we -- we paid a very small percentage of our GDP in taxes. But over the couple of centuries since then, we've seen the growth of government explode and that has all been facilitated by a tax code, one that has some serious problems."

One of them relates to its complexity. The fact that, together with its implementing regulations, it takes up tens of thousands of pages. The overall tax burden is substantial, forcing people to spend months out of every year just working for the government.

There are also other problems that relate to the fact that it punishes people for being married. It punishes people for having children. The marriage tax penalty and the parent tax penalty are horrible burdens, horrible disincentives for the very kind of behavior that we ought not be punishing. And so we need tax reform, we need simplification, and we need the kind of reform this aggressively pro-growth and that is pro- family. Our republic requires nothing less."

Norquist then praised Sen. Lee on the landmark Rubio-Lee tax reform plan: “Your leadership with Senator Rubio on the legislation is a powerful pro-growth, pro-family reform for the tax code.”

ATR has praised the Rubio-Lee plan here and here.

 

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ATR Supports H.R. 709, Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act

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Posted by Dorothy Jetter on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015, 1:51 PM PERMALINK


Earlier this year, Representative Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) introduced H.R. 709, the “Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act.”  This bill would authorize the IRS to terminate employees who target individuals based on their political beliefs.  Given the agency's recent behavior, this bill is an appropriate and necessary measure. 

Rep. Renacci stated:

“Though it’s been nearly two years since we learned of the IRS’ abuse of power, the American people’s distrust in the agency remains.  If someone at the IRS targets taxpayers based on their political beliefs, he or she should be held accountable. It’s that simple.”

H.R. 709 has bipartisan support in the House, with 54 cosponsors. Americans for Tax Reform supports the Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act.   

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ATR Supports H.R. 1295, IRS Bureaucracy Reduction and Judicial Review Act

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Posted by Dorothy Jetter on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015, 1:47 PM PERMALINK


Representative George Holding (R-N.C.)introduced H.R. 1295, the “IRS Bureaucracy Reduction and Judicial Review Act.” This bill permits 501(c)4 applicants to declare their organizational status rather than waiting for their application to be approved by the IRS.

Congressman Holding explains:

"The IRS has a troubled track record when it comes to approving organizations to operate as a 501(c)4, often forcing groups to wait months or even years to gain tax-exempt status. These indefinite delays, particularly when motivated by dislike for the groups’ views, make it impossible for social welfare organizations to become operational in a timely manner—or, in some cases, ever. My bill will streamline this burdensome IRS process by allowing groups to declare their tax-exempt status rather than wait for endless amounts of time to gain approval.” 

Chairman Roskam adds:

“Lois Lerner repeatedly went to the very ‘impartial’ panel she helped create to throw up hurdles and try to block certain groups from operating as 501(c)4 organizations. It’s clear the only way to stop this abuse of power is through major structural reforms. I applaud Congressman Holding for this thoughtful legislation, which appropriately balances tax code compliance with protections for the basic freedom so critical to all Americans.” 

The IRS has repeatedly shown its inability to act in an unbiased manner.  H.R. 1295 implements necessary structural reforms to the agency.

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Kerri Barber

...But that bill does none of that. I too was hopeful this was a step in the right direction, but no. A social welfare group should not endorse political candidates, parties or advocate for one group or another and get a tax break- period. Anyone would be able to declare themselves what they want and steal from tax payers. That isn't reform- that's theft. What about a bill for companies like CBS that paid $0 in taxes? What about Apple that dodged millions in taxes? Disappointing, I thought- 'Finally, something good', but again no- just more fleecing of the treasury.


ATR Supports H.R. 1314, Tax Exempt Organizations Right to Appeal Act

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Posted by Dorothy Jetter on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015, 1:29 PM PERMALINK


Representative Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) introduced H.R. 1314, the “Ensuring Tax Exempt Organizations the Right to Appeal Act.” This bill would amend the tax code to restore 501(c)4 organizations’ right to appeal adverse IRS determinations. 

Congressman Meehan explains the importance of this bill:

“Recent events have shown in stark terms that the IRS is anything but infallible. Basic fairness dictates that organizations whose tax-exempt applications are denied should have the right to appeal the determination. My legislation will help ensure that all Americans get fairer treatment at the hands of the IRS.” 

​Given the IRS' tendency to discriminate against individuals based on their political beliefs, H.R. 1314 is important in ensuring every American taxpayer's right to free speech without fear or threat of intimidation by the IRS.  This legislation would create a necessary check on the federal agency's power.  

Rep. Roskam explains:

“All organizations seeking 501(c)4 status should be entitled to an impartial application review process by the IRS. This should, at a minimum, include the option to directly petition the IRS if a group’s request for tax exemption is rejected. I applaud Congressman Meehan for spearheading this noncontroversial bill to grant organizations this fundamental right to appeal adverse determinations by the IRS.” 

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ATR Supports H.R. 1026, Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act

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Posted by Dorothy Jetter on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015, 1:27 PM PERMALINK


Representative Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) introduced H.R. 1026, the Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act. This bill amends the tax code to stop the IRS’s outrageous abuse of taxpayer privacy protections to instead protect government employees who improperly look at or reveal taxpayer information. 

Congressman Kelly explains:

“The revelation of the IRS’s targeting of innocent American citizens shook the foundation of the American people’s relationship with their government. The scandal took a sharp turn for the worse when we discovered private taxpayer information was leaked to outside organizations in a deliberate attempt to attack them for their political views. Insult was added to injury when the victims of this potential abuse were denied access to any information about the agency’s investigation into whether criminal wrongdoing occurred. The Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act will restore essential accountability to this troubled agency by changing the tax code to grant American citizens the critical transparency that they deserve but have been wrongly denied. If a citizen believes his or her private information has been compromised, the government should never be able to hide behind the very protections intended for them to instead protect the wrongdoer.” 

The IRS has used legislation meant to protect the personal information of taxpayers to dodge accountability for its actions. H.R. 1026 will help to bring these unethical practices to light.  

​Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam expressed his support for H.R. 1026:

“This bill seeks to end the misuse of a provision of the tax code designed to protect taxpayer information that is now being exploited to protect the government employees who are accountable for this outrageous practice.” 

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ATR Supports H.R. 1152, Email Transparency Act

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Posted by Dorothy Jetter on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015, 1:25 PM PERMALINK


Representative Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) introduced H.R. 1152, the Email Transparency Act.  This bill would prohibit IRS employees from using personal email for official government business. 

Congressman Marchant explains:

“The Ways and Means Committee investigation into IRS political targeting revealed that, among other abuses, one of the agency’s top officials used her personal email address for official business. She put confidential taxpayer information at direct risk of falling into the wrong hands. This is a breach of IRS protocol and betrays the trust of the American people. It should be against the law."

​While IRS employees are discouraged from using their personal emails, it is not prohibited. Congressman Marchant stated: 

The last thing hardworking taxpayers should have to worry about is the security of their confidential information being compromised due to IRS negligence or abuse."

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ATR Supports H.R. 1058, Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act of 2015

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Posted by Dorothy Jetter on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015, 1:24 PM PERMALINK


Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) introduced the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act of 2015.  H.R. 1058 makes a strong Bill of Rights a core responsibility of the IRS Commissioner, and ensures that all agency employees provide taxpayers fundamental rights like the rights to quality service, to pay no more than the correct amount of tax, to privacy, and to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard. 

Roskam explains:

“In the past month alone we learned that the IRS hired the contractor responsible for the disastrous rollout of Healthcare.gov and rehired over 300 employees who were previously fired for misconduct or performance issues, including some who had mishandled sensitive taxpayer information. Stories like these continue to erode public trust in the federal government and the IRS in particular. This year we have an opportunity to chart a new path forward by enacting a strong Taxpayer Bill of Rights to preserve the fundamental rights of American citizens. In light of our new majority in Congress, I am confident we can finally send these commonsense protections to the President’s desk. I am grateful to the National Taxpayer Advocate for the work she has done to achieve this reform.” 

​H.R. 1058 would help the IRS to refocus its core values towards benefiting the American taxpayers rather than avoiding and confusing them. 

 National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson writes:

"A Taxpayer Bill of Rights would provide taxpayers with critical information to assist them in their dealings with the IRS, provide the IRS with foundational principles to guide employees in their dealings with taxpayers, and serve as a benchmark to help the IRS leadership and Congress monitor the extent of the agency's compliance with these rights."

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House Vote Today: ATR Supports H.R.1104, Fair Treatment for All Gifts Act

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Posted by Dorothy Jetter on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015, 1:22 PM PERMALINK


Representative Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) introduced H.R. 1104, the “Fair Treatment for all Gifts Act”in order to ensure that donations to 501(c)4, (c)5, and (c)6 organizations are not subject to the gift tax. Federal law mandates that gifts in excess of $14,000 are subject to the gift tax, but donations to nonprofit organizations have always been considered tax-free. However, in recent years the IRS was threatening to apply the gift tax to such contributions on an ad hoc basis until the Committee commenced oversight into the matter and the IRS abruptly stopped the practice. 

Roskam, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight of the Ways and Means Committee, explained:

“Americans who donate to tax-exempt organizations should always be treated fairly and equally by the IRS—an agency with an infamous track record of targeting individuals for their religious and political beliefs. Although the IRS claims it is no longer seeking to curb giving to social welfare organizations, we need assurances that this practice will never happen in the future. The Fair Treatment for All Gifts Act, which will codify the longstanding practice of exempting these contributions from the gift tax, marks an important step in shielding Americans from further burdensome taxes and intrusive scrutiny by the IRS.” ​ 

 H.R. 1104 will help to ensure that IRS does not  discriminate against certain nonprofit organizations, as it has done in the past. Grover Norquist, President, Americans  of Americans for Tax Reform explains the importance of this legislation:

"It was clear then that the IRS was seeking to pervert the gift tax and use it as an intimidation device against potential donors to conservative non-profits.  This was happening at the same time as Lois Lerner was denying conservative and Tea Party non-profits the ability to organize and get tax status, so it's clear the gift tax gamesmanship was part and parcel of the same conspiracy against the conservative movement by the IRS."

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IRS Buys Nerf Footballs, Doesn't Even Use Them

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015, 1:00 PM PERMALINK


Using an official agency credit card, the IRS wasted taxpayer funds by spending $119 on Nerf footballs for a “team building exercise," according to a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Even worse, the IRS did not even use the footballs, which according to the report are currently sitting in an IRS filing cabinet somewhere deep within the bowels of the agency:

“Nerf footballs purchased for a team-building exercise but never used and currently stored in a filing cabinet.”

The same report also details dozens of other questionable purchases made with IRS credit cards, including Thomas the Tank Engine rubber wristbands, the world's largest crossword puzzle, and "related alcohol purchases".

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