Last week, we finally received a full list of conservative organizations unfairly targeted by the IRS for their political beliefs. The news, which came nearly three years after the scandal broke, was a stark reminder of this powerful agency’s abuse of hardworking taxpayers. We’ve already enacted several pieces of bipartisan legislation to rein in the IRS this Congress alone, but our work is far from over.
Today, the House will consider H.R. 5053, the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act, to do away with another tool that the IRS has used for political purposes. This bill, authored by Ways and Means Oversight Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL), eliminates the Schedule B form—a portion of Form 990, the annual return that most non-profits are required to file. This form requires non-profit groups to report the names of anyone who contributes more than $5,000.
Here’s the problem: Although federal law prohibits the IRS from releasing Schedule Bs, in the past this information has been exploited to target conservatives. Ahead of the 2012 presidential election, the agency improperly released the National Organization of Marriage’s (NOM) unredacted Schedule B form, which revealed a contribution from a pro-Mitt Romney group. The IRS was eventually ordered to pay NOM $50,000 in damages for releasing this confidential information.
So why does the IRS collect this data? That’s the thing—nobody really knows.
Even IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said this information is completely irrelevant to an organization’s tax-exempt status. In fact, he claimed the agency is already considering getting rid of the Schedule B. As the commissioner told the Senate in July 2015, “On your 990 you list donors—although we’re about to try to change that. As a general matter, who gives to you should not matter as to what you’re about to do.” If that’s the case, the administration should support this bill.
So there you have it: A burdensome IRS form that the agency itself doesn’t seem to want or need but requires anyway. Not to mention that this information can be used for targeting Americans. We should remove every possible avenue for the IRS to unfairly target any American for their personal religious or political beliefs.