Monday, September 29, 2014

Congress Takes Action to Stop Future IRS Tax-Exempt Scandals

Imagine that you have just started a small advocacy company for the purpose of helping save the whales. Unfortunately the IRS agent in charge of your case, who has the power to give you a tax exempt status, doesn’t agree with your cause. The agent has no legal right to turn you down, but does so anyway.

To make matters worse the agent somehow allows the names of your members, subscribers, or donors to get into the hands of an opposition group. This group then harasses your associates for being in league with you.

This is what happened in the run up to the 2012 presidential campaign, and now Congress may be about to do something about it.

The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 5418, prohibiting IRS officers and employees from using their personal email accounts to conduct official business. While it should seem obvious that a government agent with such power should keep a public paper trail regarding their deliberations, correspondence, and actions, this does not seem to be the case. 

The House also passed H.R. 5419, designed to provide tax-exempt groups with the right to an administrative appeal if they are turned down for tax-exempt status. It is remarkable that this appeal process was not already in place. The power to grant or turn down an application for tax exempt can be a dangerous tool in the hands of administrators who have inappropriate intentions.

 At the same time, the house passed H.R. 5420.  Some taxpayers have had their personal taxpayer information leaked to opposition groups for the purpose of chilling their first amendment rights. This bill would permit the release of certain information to these victims regarding the status of investigations into and such leaks of their personal taxpayer information.

All of these bills are in response to the ongoing investigation into inappropriate and illegal actions taken by various parties in the IRS determining tax-exempt status prior to the 2012 presidential campaign.

The bills now go on to the Senate.

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