Open Letter to Congress: Protect Donor Privacy – Eliminate Schedule B

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November 28, 2017 4:19 pm

The Honorable Paul D. Ryan, Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell,

On behalf of millions of taxpayers across America, we hereby urge you to support efforts preventing  future Internal Revenue Service (IRS) abuse and protecting 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.

Last year, the House of Representatives passed this important legislation in the form of H.R. 5053, the “Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act,” sponsored by Representative Peter Roskam (R – Illinois). Senator Tim Scott (R – South Carolina) introduced S. 3057 under the same title in the Senate.

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 protections we urge you to support 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. 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 and enact
legislation to finally eliminate the Schedule B form requirement for 501(c)


Jeffrey Mazzella, President
Center for Individual Freedom

Lisa B. Nelson, CEO
ALEC Action

Phil Kerpen, President
American Commitment

Steve Pociask, President
American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research

Dan Schneider, Executive Director
American Conservative Union

Sean Noble, President
American Encore

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

Chrissy Harbin, Vice President of External Affairs
Americans for Prosperity

Grover Norquist, President
Americans for Tax Reform

Norman Singleton, President
Campaign for Liberty

John Charles, President and CEO
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

Michael Bowen, CEO
Coalition for a Strong America

Kent Lassman, President and CEO
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Dan Caldwell, Executive Director
Concerned Veterans for America

Matthew Kandrach, President
Consumer Action for a Strong Economy

Tom Schatz, President
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Katie McAuliffe, Executive Director
Digital Liberty

Ed Martin, President
Rebekah Gantner, Executive Director
Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund

Gary Marx, Former Executive Director
Faith and Freedom Coalition

Nathan Nascimento, Executive Vice President
Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce

Adam Brandon, President
FreedomWorks Inc. and FreedomWorks Foundation

George Landrith, President
Frontiers of Freedom

Christopher L. Carmouche, Executive Director

Mario Lopez, President
Hispanic Leadership Fund

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

Dave Trabert, President
Kansas Policy Institute

Seton Motley, President
Less Government

Cleta Mitchell, Esq.
Attorney for Nonprofit Organizations

Gerrye Johnston, Founder/CEO
Women for Democracy in America, Inc.

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

Ron Pearson, President
Pearson & Pipkin

Lorenzo Montanari, Executive Director
Property Rights Alliance

James L. Martin, Founder/Chairman
60 Plus Association

Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO
Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council

Tracie Sharp, President and CEO
State Policy Network

David Williams, President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Judson Phillips, President
Tea Party Nation

Jenny Beth Martin, Co-Founder
Tea Party Patriots

Robert Alt, President and CEO
The Buckeye Institute

Charles Sauer, Founder and President
The Market Institute

Adam Meyerson, President
The Philanthropy Roundtable

Eli Lehrer, President
The R Street Institute

Carol Platt Liebau, President
Yankee Institute for Public Policy

Ron Robinson, President
Young America’s Foundation

cc: Chairman Kevin Brady
Chairman Orrin Hatch
Members of Congress