Congress: Prevent IRS Abuse and Protect Free Speech

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February 7, 20184:27 pm

The Honorable Peter Roskam
U.S. House of Representatives
2246 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman Roskam,

On behalf of millions of taxpayers across America, we write to endorse the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act, H.R. 4916, and urge its swift passage.

This important legislation, an identical version of which was passed by the House of Representatives last year, will help prevent future Internal Revenue Service (IRS) abuseĀ  and protect First Amendment freedoms of speech and association by eliminating the Schedule B form for 501(c) organizations that contain sensitive identifiable information on contributors to those 501(c) organizations.

As acknowledged by the IRS itself, Schedule B information is inapplicable to the legally permissible handling of 501(c) organization tax filings. Eliminating Schedule B will not only make tax compliance easier, but also help limit the ability of the IRS and others, including state officials with access to the information, to chill free speech and civic participation among the public.

As you are well aware, First Amendment free speech and association rights have come under assault in recent years, with the IRS at the center of the misbehavior. In multiple high-profile confirmed cases, the IRS has leaked sensitive, private Schedule B information that it had no right or business making public.

As only one example, the agency agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) after an IRS official provided NOM’s Schedule B to the adversarial organization Human Rights Campaign, which proceeded to publish it. Revelations of leaked information, in addition to instances in which the IRS targeted
organizations on the basis of perceived ideology, policy positions and names to deny or delay approval of nonprofit legal status, demonstrate that the threat to freedoms of speech, association and petitioning of government are all too real.

Congress must therefore take this opportunity as tax reform begins to strengthen First Amendment protections and prevent future IRS abuse, given the agency’s established record of negligent oversight and outright abuse of power. The Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act would address those important goals, and constitute a victory for private citizens and organizations across the political spectrum.

For their part, IRS officials have gone on record in support of eliminating the Schedule B form requirement for some 501(c) classifications. As reported, in December 2015, for example, IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Tamara Ripperda addressed the possibility of eliminating the Schedule B:

The IRS is considering eliminating Schedule B of the Form 990, which asks for the names and addresses of an exempt organization’s contributors and for certain information about contributions received. Tax analysts reported that, at a program sponsored by the Urban Institute, Tammy Ripperda (Director of Exempt Organizations at the IRS) questioned whether the IRS should ask for the names and addresses of contributors, given that this information is not made public, and whether there is a need for the information from a federal tax law enforcement standpoint.

It is therefore clear that the Schedule B form requirement is unnecessary, and only perpetuates the possibility of abuse by IRS officials or outside wrongdoers, including state officials with access to the information. Accordingly, we urge all Members of Congress to support H.R. 4916, legislation that will finally eliminate the Schedule B formĀ  requirement for 501(c) groups.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Mazzella, President
Center for Individual Freedom

Leigh Hixon, Senior Director of Policy Relations
Alabama Policy Institute

Lisa B. Nelson, CEO
ALEC Action

Michael Farris, President, CEO & General Counsel
Alliance Defending Freedom

Phil Kerpen, President
American Commitment

Steve Pociask, President
American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research

Allen Hebert, Chairman
American-Chinese Fellowship of Houston

Dan Schneider, Executive Director
American Conservative Union

Sean Noble, President
American Encore

Mark J. Fitzgibbons, President of Corporate Affairs
American Target Advertising, Inc.

Tim Wildmon, President
American Family Association

Brent Wm. Gardner, Chief Government Affairs Officer
Americans for Prosperity

Grover Norquist, President
Americans for Tax Reform

Brenda Baller, Vice-President
Baller & Co.

Rich Bott, President and Dick Bott, Founder
Bott Radio Network

Will Swaim, President
California Policy Center

Steve Buckstein, Senior Policy Analyst and Founder
Cascade Policy Institute

Andrew F. Quinlan, President
Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Olivia Grady, Senior Fellow
Center for Worker Freedom

Chuck Muth, President
Citizen Outreach

Twila Brase RN, PHN
President and Co-founder Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom

William L. Walton, Chairman
CNP Action, Inc.

Dawn Wildman, Policy Director
Coalition for Policy Reform

Kent Lassman, President and CEO
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Dan Caldwell, Executive Director
Concerned Veterans for America

Penny Nance, President and CEO
Concerned Women for America

Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman
ConservativeHQ.com

James N. Clymer, Vice President
Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund

Matthew Kandrach, President
Consumer Action for a Strong Economy

Ron Pearson, President
Council for America

Tom Schatz, President
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Katie McAuliffe, Executive Director
Digital Liberty

Rebekah Gantner, Executive Director
Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund

Tim Hoefer, Executive Director
Empire Center for Public Policy

Grant Callen, President
Empower Mississippi Foundation

Gary Marx, Former Executive Director
Faith and Freedom Coalition

Chad Connelly, President
Faith Wins

Paul Weber, President & CEO
Family Policy Alliance

James C. Dobson Ph.D., Founder & President
Family Talk

Tarren Bragdon, Chief Executive Officer
Foundation for Government Accountability

Brian Minnich, Executive Vice President
Freedom Foundation

Nathan Nascimento, Executive Vice President
Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce

Adam Brandon, President
FreedomWorks

George Landrith, President
Frontiers of Freedom

David Barnes, Policy Director
Generation Opportunity

Victor Riches, President & CEO
Goldwater Institute

Christopher L. Carmouche, Executive Director
GrassTopsUSA

Joseph R.Gregory, President and CEO
Gregory Management Company

Mario Lopez, President
Hispanic Leadership Fund

John Tillman, CEO
Illinois Policy Institute

Carrie L. Lukas, President
Independent Women’s Forum

Heather R. Higgins, President and CEO
Independent Women’s Voice

Andrew Langer, President
Institute for Liberty

Kory Swanson, President & CEO
John Locke Foundation

Samuel B. Casey, General Counsel
Jubilee Campaign

Dave Trabert, President
Kansas Policy Institute

Seton Motley, President
Less Government

Connor Boyack, President
Libertas Institute

Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman
Liberty Counsel

Penny Pullen, President
Life Advocacy Resource Project

The Honorable Bob McEwen
U.S. House of Representatives
Former Member, Ohio

L. Brent Bozell III, Founder and President
Media Research Center

Cleta Mitchell, Esq.
Attorney for Nonprofit Organizations

Gregg Keller, Chairman
Missouri Century Foundation

Brent Mead, CEO
Montana Policy Institute

Ted Baehr, Publisher
Movieguide

Willes K Lee, President
National Federation of Republican Assemblies

Chris W. Cox, Executive Director
National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action

Pete Sepp, President
National Taxpayers Union

John A. Tsarpalas, President
Nevada Policy Research Institute

Jonathan Small., President
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

Sally C. Pipes, President and CEO
Pacific Research Institute

Caroline Lewis, Owner
Percipio Communications

Ed Martin, President
Phyllis Schlafly Eagles

Jim Vokal, Chief Executive Officer
Platte Institute

Lorenzo Montanari, Executive Director
Property Rights Alliance

Nancy Schulze, Founder
Republican Congressional Wives Speakers Co-Chair
Congressional Prayer Caucus Wives Council

Joe Calvert, President
Rabon Calvert Interests

Mike Stenhouse, CEO
Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity

The Honorable Richard T. Schulze
U.S House of Representatives
Former Member, Pennsylvania

James L. Martin, Founder/Chairman
60 Plus Association

Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Tracie Sharp, President & CEO
State Policy Network

Kristan Hawkins, President
Students for Life of America

David Williams, President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Judson Phillips, President
Tea Party Nation

Jenny Beth Martin, Co-Founder
Tea Party Patriots

Lynn Taylor, President
Tertium Quids

Robert Alt, President & CEO
The Buckeye Institute

Brett Healy, President
The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy

Daniel Garza, President
The Libre Initiative

Matthew Gagnon, Chief Executive Officer
The Maine Heritage Policy Center

Charles Sauer, Founder and President
The Market Institute

Stephen T. Whelan, Chairman
The Witherspoon Institute

C. Preston Noell III, President
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

Bill Dallas, CEO
United in Purpose

Dann Mead Smith, President
Washington Policy Center

David A Keene, Editor at Large
Washington Times

Alan P. Dye, Partner
Webster, Chamberlain & Bean

Floyd Brown, Chairman
Western Center for Journalism

J C White, President
Almont Homes

The Honorable Somers H. White
Former Arizona State Senator