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In recent years, the IRS has rightfully lost the trust of taxpayers nationwide.
News of the IRS targeting scandal left the American people demanding answers, accountability, and assurances that this abuse will never happen again.
That’s why my colleagues and I on the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee are taking concrete steps to protect taxpayers from future IRS abuses and hold those responsible for violating the rights of American citizens accountable for their actions.
As we mark Tax Day on Wednesday, the House will pass several common sense reforms to rein in this government agency run amok and finally begin the healing process from the damage done by the IRS in recent years.
1. Force the IRS to Implement the Taxpayer Bill of Rights
As evident recently, the IRS seems unable to provide taxpayers with even the most basic, fundamental rights. My Taxpayer Bills of Rights Act (H.R. 1058) will codify as a core responsibility of the IRS Commissioner and all agency employees the right of American taxpayers to quality service, to privacy, to pay no more than the correct amount of tax, and to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard.
2. Prevent the IRS from Targeting Donors to Non-Profits
Over the past few years, the IRS has threatened to subject contributions to conservative organizations to the gift tax in yet another attempt to exploit its influence to crack down on groups whose political beliefs do not align with its own. Congressional probing into the issue prompted the IRS to back down, but no law exists to prevent this from happening in the future. My Fair Treatment for All Gifts Act (H.R. 1104) will permanently ensure that the IRS cannot use the gift tax for political intimidation.
3. Prohibit IRS Employees from Using their Personal Email Accounts
Events over the past few months underscore the importance of maintaining transparent record keeping procedures for Executive Branch employees. Rep. Kenny Marchant’s IRS Email Transparency Act (HR 1152) will increase accountability at the IRS by prohibiting employees, many of whom handle confidential taxpayer information, from using personal email accounts when conducting official government business.
4. Stop IRS Abuse of Taxpayer Privacy Protections
In addition to targeting conservative groups, the IRS has admitted to leaking confidential taxpayer information from several organizations to liberal journalism outlets. However, the same protections designed to protect taxpayer information are now being exploited by the IRS to protect the government employees who are accountable for this outrageous practice.
The Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act (H.R. 1026), authored by Rep. Mike Kelly, will end this misuse of the tax code that has allowed IRS employees to violate the privacy rights of American citizens and then prevent those same protects for their own cover.
5. Allow Social Welfare Groups to Self-Declare their Tax-Exempt Status
The IRS has also attempted to stifle conservative groups through indefinite delays of the tax-exempt status process. Rather than merely rejecting an organization’s request for 501(c)4 status, the IRS has targeted applicants for political purposes by stalling to make a decision for months and even years in some cases. This prevents nascent, aspiring tax-exempt groups from raising the resources necessary to function—effectively inhibiting them from ever getting off the ground.
Rep. George Holding’s H.R. 1295 will allow social welfare groups, like 527 tax-exempt organizations, to self-declare their status rather than being subject to extraordinary delays and inappropriate questioning due to their political views.
6. Permit Organizations to Appeal Denied Requests for Tax-Exempt Status
In the past, some 501(c)4 applicants who endure this grueling process drew additional scrutiny from Washington, D.C. officials and arbitrarily precluded from the common sense appeal rights afforded to other applications. H.R. 1314, authored by Rep. Pat Meehan, will allow these organizations the fundamental right to appeal adverse determinations by the IRS to ensure a fair and impartial review process.
7. Fire Employees Found Guilty of Targeting Americans for Political Purposes
Only for an agency like the IRS is it necessary to specify that abusing government power for political purposes is grounds for termination. Rep. Jim Renacci’s Preventing Targeting at the IRS Act (H.R. 709) ensures that any IRS employee found guilty of targeting individuals or groups based on their political affiliation should be fired immediately. It’s about time we hold government agencies accountable for their mistreatment of American citizens.