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CEI Joins Coalition Urging Efforts to Prevent IRS Abuse

Coalition Letters

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CEI Joins Coalition Urging Efforts to Prevent IRS Abuse

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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) groups.

Sincerely,

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 & 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 & 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 GrassTopsUSA

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 & Entrepreneurship Council

Tracie Sharp

President & 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 & 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