Alexander: ‘Put an end to the IRS’s abuse of Americans’

News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2014 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced he is a cosponsor of legislation that would delay until February of 2017 the Internal Revenue Service’s plans to issue new regulations that could define candidate-related political activities of tax-exempt social welfare organizations, regulations Alexander says are “so broad they limit free speech.”

“The IRS created an enemies list when it targeted conservative groups in Tennessee and around the country for extra scrutiny, and now it is yet again threatening the First Amendment rights of the American people with these broad regulations,” said Alexander. “With a new Republican majority in Congress, I hope we can finally put an end to the IRS’s abuse of Americans’ constitutional right to speak up and speak out, and work to restore their trust in the federal government.”

The Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2015, S. 283, introduced by Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), would delay until Feb. 28, 2017, the IRS’s plans to issue regulations to define “candidate-related political activities” of tax-exempt social welfare organizations. The broad definition of candidate-related political activity would put social welfare organizations at risk of losing their tax-exempt status.

Alexander was a cosponsor of similar legislation in the previous Congress as well as the IRS Abuse Protection Act, which would require the federal government to notify taxpayers whenever the IRS has assessed their tax returns to ensure the IRS is not violating using taxpayers’ information.

Following the introduction of those pieces of legislation, the IRS announced in May of 2014 that it would reconsider its proposed regulations. The IRS reported receiving more than 150,000 comments on these regulations, the “the most comments ever received by [the U.S.] Treasury and IRS on a proposed regulation.”

After learning of the IRS’s admitted targeting of conservative groups in 2012, Alexander first said, “The government should not have what amounts to an enemies list based on what people or organizations say or believe, and if it turns out the IRS is denying Tea Party groups the proper tax status because of what they have to say, it must stop and those responsible must be held accountable.”

UPDATE/NOTE: Sen. Bob Corker joins as a co-sponsor, too, and issues a news release. It’s below.

News release from Sen. Bob Corker
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) this week cosponsored S.283, the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2015. The bill, introduced by Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) in the Senate and Representatives Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) in the House of Representatives, would prohibit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from further regulating the activities of social welfare organizations until 2017, following cases where some groups were inappropriately flagged for additional review due to their political beliefs during the 2012 election cycle.

“It is unacceptable that all nonprofit organizations seeking tax-exempt status – including groups in Tennessee – have not been treated fairly by the IRS in the past,” said Corker. “As a result, Americans don’t trust the IRS to act impartially, and this bill helps assure Tennesseans that this kind of activity will not happen again.”

In 2013, Corker joined Senate colleagues in asking the IRS to treat all nonprofit groups seeking tax-exempt status fairly in the designation process and demanded that the administration fully comply with congressional investigation requests on how the IRS targeted conservative groups. Corker also cosponsored similar legislation in the 113th Congress.