Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 5053, the “Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act,” introduced by Congressman Peter Roskam (R-Ill.). This important legislation prevents the IRS from targeting non-profits by prohibiting the agency from collecting the identity of donors who contribute to these organizations. Members of Congress should vote yes on H.R. 5053.
“Richard Nixon had the decency to write down his own enemies list. Obama and Hillary Clinton want the IRS to compile the list of individuals who give to political causes they disapprove of. We know how they will abuse that list. It has happened already through leaks,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “And we’ve seen the Democrat Attorneys General across the country attack people for holding views supporting institutions that disagree with them on a carbon tax.”
The IRS requires non-profits to submit a schedule B form, listing the names and addresses of their donors. This form is not used by the IRS for any purpose. Given the increasing politicization within the agency, the existence of these forms is an “accident” waiting to happen.
Without access to the identities of conservative donors the IRS will have one less avenue in which they can target right-leaning citizens and organizations. Passing this bill will dramatically reduce the information the IRS has the legal “right” to, lessening the chance of exploitation.
The IRS has a well-documented history of targeting groups based on political affiliation. Under this administration, Lois Lerner and countless IRS employees under her direction discriminated against conservative non-profit organizations based solely on their beliefs. Because of this coordinated effort, just one conservative non-profit was granted tax exempt status over a three year period between 2009 and 2012.
Today, these risks still exist as a recent report by the Government Accountability Office warned. As the report noted, serious internal control flaws mean the IRS may still be unfairly selecting Americans for an audit “based on an organization’s religious, educational, political, or other views.”
Protecting free speech is an issue that should be supported by members and groups regardless of political affiliation. Refusing to act against IRS abuse opens the door to future administrations doing the same regardless of whether they are Democrat or Republican.
ATR supports Rep. Roskam’s legislation and urges all members of congress to vote for the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act.