The IRS recently proposed a rule to weaken the effectiveness of non-profits. Under this proposal, the IRS would give 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, which includes charities, religious groups, and educational foundations, the option to collect the social security numbers of donors giving more than $250 so that they can be sent to the IRS. While optional at the moment, it is obvious that the rule is simply a way for the IRS to transition to mandatory collection of social security numbers. This rule should frighten all Americans because it opens up a whole pandora’s box of security concerns. Additionally, the IRS can use this to further their political agenda, targeting not only conservative non-profits but also individual supporters of these groups.
Non-profit organizations will be more susceptible to hacking attempts to steal their donors’ identities. To combat this hacking risk, non-profits will be forced to expand their cybersecurity, diverting funds away from their core mission. Additionally, heightened privacy risk will scare away concerned donors. Given the pernicious effects this rule would have on non-profit groups, it is no wonder organizations from both sides of the aisle oppose this rule. Notably, the National Council of Nonprofits, which represents more than 25,000 groups throughout the country, has voiced strong opposition against this rule. The group writes that non-profits should “never be asking a donor for her or his Social Security number when soliciting donations”.
The security risk on non-profits is compounded by the IRS’ failures to protect taxpayer information. Just this past year, the IRS compromised the personal information of a whopping 330,000 taxpayers; in spite of being warned at least seven times that it had faulty security.
In addition to the security risk, this rule should frighten for its political implications. Under this new rule, the IRS could target individual taxpayers for their political views, jeopardizing their First Amendment rights. The IRS has already engaged in politically motivated targeting of various conservative groups, causing a massive scandal and subsequent investigation into the IRS. In spite of this, all IRS officials involved in the scandal walked away scot-free.
The IRS’ new rule will jeopardize Americans’ security, harm non-profits, and suppress free speech. Given the horrible track record of IRS mismanagement, it is incredibly foolish to give them access to more taxpayer information. Time and time again, the IRS has proven itself and ineffective and harmful agency. Luckily, the IRS’ new rule is still a proposal and can be defeated before it takes effect, allowing the IRS to harm further the American people.
Photo Credit: David Boeke