Tuesday | June 14, 2016

Senator Scott Introduces Bill to Curb IRS Abuse and Protect Free Speech

Washington - Continuing efforts to curb the ability of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to target groups and organizations due to their political beliefs, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) today introduced the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act. The legislation, which builds from a recommendation the IRS itself is considering, would ensure the tax information of those who support tax-exempt non-profits is protected by changing the reporting requirements for the 990 Schedule B form.

The House of Representatives is expected to pass this legislation later today, which was introduced in the House by Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL).

"The IRS' targeting of groups based on their political beliefs is totally unacceptable, and we must take concrete steps to ensure it never happens again," Scott said. "While the administration has not taken these steps, I refuse to wait. The Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act eliminates a burdensome reporting requirement containing information that has been abused by the IRS in the past, and helps protect the tax information of those who choose to donate to non-profit organizations."

The IRS does not typically utilize the 990 Schedule B form for tax administration, and has shown in the past it does not adequately protect the taxpayer information on these forms.

Specifically, The Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act would limit reporting requirements on non-profits to only donors who contribute $5,000 or more during the current tax year AND who are either an officer or director of an organization or one of its five highest paid employees. Currently, the 990 Schedule B form must detail information on all donors who contribute $5,000 or more. While the form is excluded from public disclosure, IRS employees have been shown to improperly access the form and share its contents. The most well known example came in 2012 when the National Organization for Marriage had information from their Schedule B form leaked.

Last November, Senator Scott introduced the End the Partisan IRS Culture (EPIC) Act,which would decrease political decision-making at the IRS by amending the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute to designate the IRS as an agency that is exempt from labor organization and collective bargaining requirements. In 2011, at a cost of $27 million to hard-working taxpayers, IRS employees spent more than 600,000 hours of official time on union duties; more than 200 IRS employees worked full time on union issues.

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