Who do you trust with your private information — the affiliations that reveal your religious or political beliefs?
Members of your extended family? A neighbor with whom you speak only occasionally? What about a stranger who happens to be an IRS agent?
The IRS has never been America’s most popular federal agency, but its collection of personal information on individuals has not helped its case. No government entity should have access to details concerning private citizens’ religious and political ties.
The IRS’s targeting of conservative groups only deepened public distrust of the agency and demand that protections be put in place to prevent such abuse of power from occurring in the future.
Following extensive investigation into the IRS’s exploitation of charities and nonprofits, the House recently passed the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act (H.R. 5053) with my support. This legislation would stop the IRS from requiring confidential donor information concerning individuals other than officers or the most highly paid employees of nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations.
Currently, these groups must submit a Form 990 Schedule B as part of their tax filing that contains personal information about their donors and how much money those donors contributed.
The IRS does not need this information to process the tax status of any group, and there has never been a clear reason why organizations are required to submit it. IRS employees have leaked confidential information contained in the Schedule B form to the media or outside organizations in the past. Eliminating certain requirements on the Schedule B form will help remove the potential for abuse, protect Americans’ personal information, and prevent harassment by the IRS.
I will continue holding the agency’s feet to the fire as I take part in impeachment proceedings concerning the agency’s commissioner, John Koskinen. Investigations into the IRS’s treatment of conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status have revealed misconduct at the highest levels. A culture of respect for all taxpayers will only be restored at the IRS if those responsible for wrongdoing are held accountable.
Congress must prevent the IRS from any further infringement of Americans’ privacy. As your voice in the House, I will continue working with my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to keep the IRS in check.
Doug Collins is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 9th District. Reach him at 1504 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, 202-225-9893; 210 Washington St. NW, Suite 202, Gainesville 30501, 770-297-3388; dougcollins.house.gov.