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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Ten Outrageous Items the IRS Purchased With Taxpayer's Money

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Posted by ATR on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015, 11:48 AM PERMALINK


Throughout the 2015 tax season the IRS has desperately tried to convince Americans that it needs more money. It is ridiculous that the agency is now pleading poverty, after years of outrageous spending habits. A Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report outlines the abuses in the IRS employee credit card program. Below are the top ten most ridiculous items purchased with IRS credit cards:

Item #1: Nerf Footballs
IRS employees used their credit card to purchase $119 worth of Nerf footballs that were intended to be used for a “team-building exercise.”  As if that wasn’t bad enough, they never used the balls, which are “currently stored in a filing cabinet” somewhere in the bowels of the IRS.

Item #2: “Related Alcohol Purchases”
At one luncheon, IRS credit cards were used for “related alcohol purchases” including 28 bottles of wine—for 41 guests.  As a bottle of wine contains about five servings, this equates to three and a half glasses of wine per person. 

Item #3: Thomas the Tank Engine Rubber Wristbands
For the child in all of us, the IRS purchased these for “managers’ meetings.”  These were part of the “almost $4,000 in improper decorative and give-away items” that TIGTA found in their review.

Item #4: "World’s Largest Crossword Puzzle"
Along with some jigsaw puzzles, the IRS purchased the “world’s largest crossword puzzle.”  These purchases cost $89 of taxpayer money.  Hopefully the IRS actually used these in their “team building” activities.

Item #5: “Plush Animals”
Even IRS agents need a little love sometimes, which may be why plush animals were purchased with IRS credit cards as give away prizes.  Who wouldn’t want to go home and squeeze their little teddy after a long day of harassing free-market grassroots groups?

Item #6: Bathtub Toy Boats
Another one of the “give-away items” at the IRS managers’ meetings were “bathtub toy boats”.  The IRS spent $418 to purchase these, along with some other “improper decorative and give-away items.”

Item #7: Stove Top Hats
Not many people can pull off the hat like Abe Lincoln did, but that didn’t stop IRS agents from trying to outdo our 16th President.  Stove top hats were purchased using an IRS credit card as yet another “give-away prize.”

Item #8: Kazoos
The IRS must enjoy the sound of Kazoos.  They used your tax money for “novelty decorations and give-away items, such as kazoos” which were awarded as prizes during their managers’ meetings. 

Item #9: “Dinner at an approximate cost of $140 per person.”
The report notes a “dinner at an approximate cost of $140 per person, four times the Federal Government per diem rate in Washington D.C.”  At the time of this conference the per diem rate was $36 for dinner.

Item #10: A $100 Per Person Lunch
The IRS spent five times the Federal Government per diem rate of $18 when they bought lunch at $100 per guest.  And they say there is no such thing as a free lunch.

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ATR Supports the FAIR Act

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015, 12:00 AM PERMALINK


On April 14, 2015, Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to Congress urging law makers to lend their support to the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act (FAIR Act). This landmark reform would effectively end most forms of the controversial practice of civil asset forfeiture at the federal level. States like New Mexico have already demonstrated that comprehensive reform is possible and popular, thus underscoring the urgency for federal reform.

The FAIR Act would be instrumental in restoring trust in our law enforcement officials; moreover it would ensure that those who break the law pay the penalty. Below is the full text of the letter:

 

Dear Senator Paul and Congressman Walberg,

I would like to extend my strong support for Senate Bill 255, the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act (FAIR Act). This proposal would be a monumental leap in the effort to reform the nation’s broken civil asset forfeiture system.

The current asset forfeiture system is broken. Since its expansion in 1984 there has been an explosive growth in the size of the Federal Asset forfeiture Fund. Between 2000 and 2013 alone, the fund grew from over $500 million to over $2 billion; funds that can be used at the discretion of the authorities who seized the property.

Most law enforcement officials are honest individuals who frequently put their own lives at risk to protect their communities. Nevertheless, innocent Americans should not be placed in a situation where their property can be confiscated without hope for due process. The FAIR Act manages to both restore constitutional guarantees to the American public and renovate public trust in the nation’s law enforcement.

The FAIR Act would first address federal budgetary incentives for authorities to seize property. The proposal eliminates the process of Equitable Sharing, which allows local and state law enforcement officials to use federal rules to seize assets. Additionally, the act transfers confiscated funds from the Federal Asset Forfeiture Fund into the general treasury, increasing oversight of the assets by Congress.

Authorities would also be required to prove guilt in order to keep the funds. This change would be coupled with an increase in the burden of proof required from the government to prove guilt. This fundamental change to the status quo would bolster public faith in the rule of law and assure Americans that criminals, not law-abiding civilians, pay the price for broken laws.

Furthermore, the Internal Revenue Service would be limited in their use of structuring laws when seizing money from people’s bank accounts. Structuring allows the IRS to take funds from a bank account when authorities suspect that deposits to the account are made in a way designed to avoid reporting laws. The FAIR Act would only allow forfeiture if the owner of the funds knowingly made the deposits in a way to avoid federal laws.

This new regime takes into account the need to punish law-breakers and the rights of citizens. Simply put, criminals should not enjoy the fruits of their bad behavior, and by requiring proof of wrongdoing we ensure that those who break the law pay up.

Moreover, the proposed reforms serve to bolster the credibility of law enforcement with their local communities. If law-abiding civilians are assured that there is no danger of their property being confiscated, confidence in the rule of law will be strengthened and officers will find it easier to gain the cooperation of their communities. I implore your colleagues to extend their own support for this important legislation. For more information, please contact Jorge Marin in my office at jmarin@atr.org.

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist

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Top Ten Reasons the House Will Kill the Death Tax

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Posted by Ryan Ellis on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015, 5:50 PM PERMALINK


Update: The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed The Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015! Now the fight begins in the U.S. Senate. Want to abolish the Death Tax? Take action now!

For the first time in ten years, the U.S. House of Representatives this week will vote on a bill to kill the death tax once and for all. H.R. 1105, the “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015″ is sponsored by Congressman Kevin Brady (R-Texas.) and notably features the co-sponsorship of Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Earlier iterations of this bill have enjoyed the co-sponsorship of a majority of the chamber, so passage is not in doubt. Maybe that’s why 81 business and citizen grassroots organizations have signed a joint letter under the auspices of the Family Business Coalition urging Congress to kill the death tax.

With the fate of the bill a sure thing, let’s reflect on the top ten reasons the death tax deserves to die:

1. The death tax is not fair.  At a basic level, Americans know that the death tax is not fair. It’s not fair that you earn income all your life and pay heavy taxes on it. It’s not fair that you save your hard-earned money and pay taxes on what you make. It’s not fair that you build a small business and face exorbitantly high tax rates. But all of these unfairness taxes pale in comparison to the death tax. The death tax is a tax you pay on savings you have already paid taxes on at least once, and potentially more than once. It results in the liquidation of first and second generation farms and businesses just to pay the tax. Why should a business have to pay taxes again just because an owner has died?

2. The death tax is not popular with the American people.  In a 2009 Tax Foundation poll, the death tax was considered the “least fair” by the American people, even more unfair than the income tax. In poll after poll for decades now, the death tax has consistently been opposed by 60 to 70 percent of adults, registered voters, and likely voters. The results are in, and the intense opposition to the death tax is unquestionable.

3. The death tax collects almost no tax revenue.  According to both the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget, the death tax is expected to bring in about $20 billion in tax revenue this year. Now, in the real world that’s a lot of money. It’s not a lot of money by Beltway tax collection standards, though.

The federal government is anticipated to collect $3.2 trillion in tax revenue this year, according to CBO.  Do the math, and it will take about 55 hours–out of the whole year–to collect all the revenue from the death tax.  That’s 2 days out of 365 days in the year.

To put it another way, suppose all the revenue the federal government was going to collect this year was represented as $100.  In that case, the death tax would be about $0.63 out of that $100.

You get the picture.  

4. The death tax is a declining source of federal revenue.  As recently as 2000, the death tax wasn’t the joke of a revenue source it is today.  Back then, it raised a respectable 1.5 percent of all federal revenues. But today it’s less than half that. As time goes by, we should expect the death tax to continue to wither on the vine as a real revenue source, as it has for years. The true reason for collecting it is not to raise tax revenue, but it’s out of a misguided sense of class warfare ideology.

5. The truly rich don’t pay the death tax.  As our liberal friends at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities have recently reminded us, “many wealthy estates employ teams of lawyers and accountants to develop and exploit loopholes in the estate tax that allow them to pass on large portions of their estates tax-free.  These strategies don’t benefit the broader economy; they only allow the wealthiest estates to avoid taxes.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. The uber-rich can afford these “teams of lawyers and accountants” to “develop and exploit loopholes” for their clients. First and second generation business owners and family farmers cannot.  As a result, Paris Hilton will be death tax free her whole life (and beyond), but startup business owners will either have to pay the death tax or funnel scarce capital into their own little army of tax nerds and lawyers.

6. Chances are, you don’t live in a state with a death tax. While Congress has been sitting on their hands for ten years not repealing the death tax, states have been doing their “laboratories of democracy” thing.  Non-death tax states now outnumber death tax states about 30-20, and those dwindling number of states which still have a death tax are either looking to scrap it or are greatly increasing their state death tax’s “standard deduction.” It’s not a good revenue source, and states know it.

7. Most countries have a death tax rate far lower than our own, and many have no death tax at all.  The United States, with its gut-punching 40 percent federal death tax rate plus the various state rates, has the fourth-highest death tax rate in the world.  We’re only ahead of Japan, South Korea, and France.  Many familiar countries–Australia, Canada, Israel, and even Sweden–have no death tax at all. In a world where capital is mobile and global, this matters a lot. People don’t have to die in the United States.

8. The death tax is bad for jobs and killing it would give you a raise. Again according to the Tax Foundation (they’ve done some great work in this field) the death tax is an economy killer. They have a macroeconomic “dynamic” model to see what killing the death tax would do to the job market. It projects that killing the death tax would create 139,000 jobs, increase private business hours by 0.1 percent, and increase wages by 0.7 percent.

9. The death tax is bad for economic growth and repeal literally pays for itself. The same Tax Foundation report says that the death tax would increase the economy by 0.8 percent (or $137 billion in today’s dollars).

Because this additional economic growth would be subject to taxation all its own, it would more than make up for the revenue lost by repealing the death tax–it would make up the $20 billion per year, plus yield an extra $8 billion per year on top of that.  You heard that right–we’d actually collect more tax revenue if we stopped collecting the death tax.

10. The death tax is even bad for the environment. A recent study by Brian Seasholes at Reason shows that the death tax leads to the subdivision of many large, privately owned land tracts.  That’s because heirs–land rich but cash poor and in need of money to pay the death tax–sell off parcels of land in order to satisfy Uncle Sam. This leads to development of land which would never have been developed except for the death tax.

Do you agree with Ryan that the Death Tax should be repealed? Urge your senators to kill the death tax right now! 

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Steve-O

Nick: We'll give you the benefit of the doubt.......you forgot to take your meds this morning. You're not thinking clearly your spelling is off, your typing co-ordination is off. You're the one who needs a major "reality alert". And how about you respond to ANY of the article's points ? Too difficult for you?

Steve-O

Nicholas: You responded to ZERO of the article's points. You just flunked Debate 101. Oh, and what did the GOVT do, to deserve the money ? Nothing, as usual. They just use it for more wasteful spending and overpaid administrators in DC. Nice going Nick !

NicholasBourbaki

You want country with no taxes, and (I am guessing here ) no gun laws, heavy on religion?
Move to Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Afghanistan and now yemen


Hatch Letter to IRS Chief: Explain Your Spending Decisions

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015, 5:06 PM PERMALINK


Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today sent a letter to the IRS questioning the agency's spending decisions. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen continues to make excuses claiming that unless the IRS receives more taxpayer funds, the agency will continue to ignore 60 percent of taxpayer calls. However, Chairman Hatch notes several areas the IRS has been making wasteful spending decisions:

  • $4.3 million spent on “market research” and “public opinion” polling last fiscal year;
  • Over $8,000 spent on a “fitness equipment stair climber,” which I assume is in a building with actual stairs;
  • Thousands of dollars spent on “decorative and give-away items,” such as plush animals, toy footballs, and “kazoos, bathtub toy boats, and Thomas the Tank Engine rubber wristbands, for managers’ meetings.”
  • Nearly $4 million spent on office furniture last fiscal year.


As Chairman Hatch’s letter says, the IRS’s level of service has become so poor that the agency is hanging up on taxpayers, and turning away others. As the letter states:

More recently, several news articles have detailed stories of IRS employees turning away those seeking help with their tax filings and hanging up on callers – something your agency bizarrely calls “courtesy disconnects.”

Given the numerous instances of wasteful government spending by the IRS, it is difficult to agree with the claim that they desperately need more funding. In fact, the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent watchdog has found that the IRS is unable to justify its allocation of taxpayer funds and has come under scrutiny by oversight organizations for its past resource allocation.

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