A press release from Congressman Peter Roskam:

Roskam Hails Passage of IRS Abuse Bills as “A Victory for American Taxpayers”
National Taxpayer Advocate: “A landmark achievement”

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL) released the following statement hailing House passage of a package of reforms to rein in IRS abuse, protect American taxpayers, and hold agency employees accountable for misconduct:

Peter Roskam

Peter Roskam

“The overwhelming bipartisan passage of these important bills to rein in IRS abuse is a victory for American taxpayers.

“This marks a major step forward in our common quest to strengthen transparency and accountability at the IRS—an agency in desperate need for a complete makeover and cultural change.

“I want to thank Chairman Ryan, Subcommittee Ranking Member Lewis, and Representatives Marchant, Meehan, Kelly, Holding, and Renacci for their tremendous leadership on an issue that affects every single taxpaying citizen across the country.

“To be sure, our job is not yet done. More work is needed to ensure that the IRS works for—not against—the American people, and we remain committed to advancing more commonsense reforms to accomplish this goal.”

The full list of bills passed by the House, accompanied with individual statements, is below:

Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act of 2015 (HR 1058 – Rep. Peter Roskam)

Makes a strong Bill of Rights a core responsibility of the IRS Commissioner, and ensures that all employees provide taxpayers fundamental rights like the rights to quality service, to pay no more than the correct amount of tax, to privacy, and to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard.

Chairman Roskam: “This year alone we learned that the IRS hired the contractor responsible for the disastrous rollout of Healthcare.gov and rehired over 300 employees who were previously fired for misconduct or performance issues, including some who had mishandled sensitive taxpayer information. Stories like these continue to erode public trust in the federal government and the IRS in particular. This year we have an opportunity to chart a new path forward by enacting a strong Taxpayer Bill of Rights to preserve the fundamental rights of American citizens. In light of our new majority in Congress, I am confident we can finally send these commonsense protections to the President’s desk. I am grateful to the National Taxpayer Advocate for the work she has done to achieve this reform.”

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson: “Since 2007, I have been recommending that Congress codify a principles-based Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The 10 rights included in this legislation were developed by my office and refined on the basis of numerous focus groups we conducted with taxpayers and preparers. I believe enactment of these rights would constitute a landmark achievement for taxpayers, helping them to better understand and exercise their rights and pinpointing where gaps exist in the protection of taxpayer rights that may require additional statutory protections.”

IRS Email Transparency Act (HR 1152 – Rep. Kenny Marchant)

Prohibits IRS employees from using personal email for official government business.

Rep. Marchant: “The Ways and Means Committee investigation into IRS political targeting revealed that, among other abuses, one of the agency’s top officials used her personal email address for official business. She put confidential taxpayer information at direct risk of falling into the wrong hands. This is a breach of IRS protocol and betrays the trust of the American people. It should be against the law.

“To ensure the IRS’s irresponsible actions are not repeated and to better secure taxpayers’ personal information, I have introduced legislation that would prohibit IRS officers and employees from using personal email accounts for official business. The last thing hardworking taxpayers should have to worry about is the security of their confidential information being compromised due to IRS negligence or abuse. My bill shines a light on the problem, takes action to solve it, and helps prevent IRS harassment of taxpayers from ever happening again.

“I’m honored that the IRS Email Transparency Act passed the House with strong bipartisan support. This legislation is one small part of our effort to clean up the IRS, but it takes big steps to safeguard taxpayer information and prevent IRS abuse of honest Americans from ever happening again.”

Chairman Roskam: “Events over the past month underscore the need to maintain transparent record keeping procedures for Executive Branch employees. IRS personnel should never use personal email addresses when conducting official government businesses, especially those who routinely handle sensitive taxpayer information. I want to thank Congressman Marchant for his work on this commonsense legislation to strengthen government accountability and protect Americans from irresponsible IRS behavior.”

Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act (HR 1026 – Rep. Mike Kelly)

Amends the tax code to stop the IRS’s outrageous abuse of taxpayer privacy protections to instead protect government employees who improperly look at or reveal taxpayer information.

Under Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code, it is currently a felony for anyone to reveal confidential taxpayer information. However, instead of focusing on the taxpayers they serve, the IRS has twisted 6103 protections to keep Americans in the dark about what happened and if their private information was accessed or shared improperly by a government employee.

Rep. Kelly: “The revelation of the IRS’s targeting of innocent American citizens shook the foundation of the American people’s relationship with their government. The scandal took a sharp turn for the worse when we discovered private taxpayer information was leaked to outside organizations in a deliberate attempt to attack them for their political views. Insult was added to injury when the victims of this potential abuse were denied access to any information about the agency’s investigation into whether criminal wrongdoing occurred. The Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act will restore essential accountability to this troubled agency by changing the tax code to grant American citizens the critical transparency that they deserve but have been wrongly denied. If a citizen believes his or her private information has been compromised, the government should never be able to hide behind the very protections intended for them to instead protect the wrongdoer.”

Chairman Roskam: “This bill seeks to end the misuse of a provision of the tax code designed to protect taxpayer information that is now being exploited to protect the government employees who are accountable for this outrageous practice.”

Ensuring Tax Exempt Organizations the Right to Appeal Act (HR 1314 – Rep. Pat Meehan)

Amends the tax code to restore 501(c)4 organizations’ right to appeal adverse IRS determinations.

Rep. Meehan: “Recent events have shown in stark terms that the IRS is anything but infallible. Basic fairness dictates that organizations whose tax-exempt applications are denied should have the right to appeal the determination. My legislation will help ensure that all Americans get fairer treatment at the IRS.”

Chairman Roskam: “All organizations seeking 501(c)4 status should be entitled to an impartial application review process by the IRS. This should, at a minimum, include the option to directly petition the IRS if a group’s request for tax exemption is rejected. I applaud Congressman Meehan for spearheading this noncontroversial bill to grant organizations this fundamental right to appeal adverse determinations by the IRS.”

IRS Bureaucracy Reduction and Judicial Review Act (HR 1295 – Rep. George Holding)

Permits 501(c)4 applicants to declare their organizational status rather than waiting for their application to be approved by the IRS (similar to the process for 527s). Reforming and simplifying the 501(c)4 process will help the IRS to focus on processing applications for 501(c)3 status, which is required by law unlike the voluntary 501(c)4 application process.

Rep. Holding: “The IRS has a troubled track record when it comes to approving organizations to operate as a 501(c)4, often forcing groups to wait months or even years to gain tax-exempt status. These indefinite delays, particularly when motivated by dislike for the groups’ views, make it impossible for social welfare organizations to become operational in a timely manner—or, in some cases, ever. My bill will streamline this burdensome IRS process by allowing groups to declare their tax-exempt status rather than wait for endless amounts of time to gain approval.”

Chairman Roskam: “Lois Lerner repeatedly went to the very ‘impartial’ panel she helped create to throw up hurdles and try to block certain groups from operating as 501(c)4 organizations. It’s clear the only way to stop this abuse of power is through major structural reforms. I applaud Congressman Holding for this thoughtful legislation, which appropriately balances tax code compliance with protections for the basic freedom so critical to all Americans.”

Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act (HR 709 – Rep. Jim Renacci)

Makes clear that an agent’s use of IRS authority in targeting individuals or groups based on their political affiliation is grounds for termination.

Rep. Renacci: “When the American people learned nearly two years ago that the IRS targeted political groups for extra scrutiny, they were outraged – and rightly so. There is no room for political targeting in our democracy. That is why I introduced the Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act. I am pleased that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle came together to approve this commonsense legislation. It provides the accountability the American people expect and deserve, and is a step in the right direction to restoring a government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Fair Treatment for All Gifts Act (HR 1104 – Rep. Peter Roskam)

Permanently ensures that donations to 501(c)4, (c)5, and (c)6 organizations are not subject to the gift tax. Federal law mandates that gifts in excess of $14,000 are subject to the gift tax, but donations to nonprofit organizations have always been considered tax-free. However, in recent years the IRS was threatening to apply the gift tax to such contributions on an ad hoc basis until the Committee commenced oversight into the matter and the IRS abruptly stopped the practice.

This legislation is supported by key advocacy organizations, including Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, Freedom Works, Hispanic Leadership Fund, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, 60 Plus Association, National Taxpayers Union, Citizens United, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Tea Party Nation, Institute for Liberty, and American Commitment.

Chairman Roskam: “Americans who donate to tax-exempt organizations should always be treated fairly and equally by the IRS—an agency with an infamous track record of targeting individuals for their religious and political beliefs. Although the IRS claims it is no longer seeking to curb giving to social welfare organizations, we need assurances that this practice will never happen in the future. The Fair Treatment for All Gifts Act, which will codify the longstanding practice of exempting these contributions from the gift tax, marks an important step in shielding Americans from further burdensome taxes and intrusive scrutiny by the IRS.”


Comments

— 3 Comments

  1. Roskam is one our greatest leaders.

    No doubt he works for the people.

    Every single person at all echelons of government should be held responsible by the people.

    They are there to work for the people.

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