01.30.15

Isakson, Perdue Cosponsor Bill to Protect Americans from IRS Political Targeting

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and David Perdue, R-Ga., this week cosponsored legislation to stop the Internal Revenue Service from implementing its proposal to severely curtail the First Amendment rights of citizen-led 501(c)(4) groups.

The Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act was introduced by U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and is cosponsored by 33 additional senators. The bill would stop further attempts by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to exploit bureaucratic loopholes to restrict the free speech rights of the same types of tax-exempt social welfare organizations victimized in the IRS political targeting scandal.

“Our Founding Fathers put freedom of speech in the First Amendment to the Constitution for a reason, and I am proud to join my colleagues in ensuring that our Constitutional rights are preserved for groups of all political beliefs,” said Senator Isakson, who is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees the IRS. “I will continue to do all that I can to end the corruption and politicization we’ve seen within the IRS.”

“Far too many people, including Georgians, have been targeted by the IRS for their personal beliefs, and this legislation will put a permanent stop to it,” said Senator Perdue. “The IRS’s abuse of power is emblematic of what’s wrong with Washington today: the federal government has lost sight of what our Founders intended. It’s a sad day for the American people and our Constitution that we even need to create legislation to reinforce the protection of our right to free speech and free thought. With conviction, I am a cosponsor of this this bill because we must do everything we can to ensure that Americans are guaranteed their Constitutional rights.”

Specifically, this legislation would prohibit the Obama Administration’s scandal-plagued IRS from advancing rules or  regulations to further restrict the permissible civic activities of social welfare organizations under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code beyond those limitations that were in place on January 1, 2010 – prior to the agency’s inappropriate targeting of conservative nonprofits.

Sens. Isakson and Perdue are also original cosponsors of the Fair Tax Act of 2015, which would abolish the IRS, repeal all federal income and payroll taxes and replace them with a revenue-neutral, personal consumption tax.

Background:

On Nov. 29, 2013, the Department of Treasury published a proposed IRS rule that would broadly define 501(c)(4) political activity to include voter registration, voter education, communications that mention a candidate or party, grants to 527s, and events in which a candidate participates, among other activities. Even non-partisan activities would be limited. The regulations specifically single out 501(c)(4) organizations, and do not apply to other nonprofit organizations such as charities, labor unions or trade associations.

The administration has already faced harsh criticism for earlier attempts by the IRS to target these same organizations. On May 14, 2013, the Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration released a report finding that the IRS had inappropriately targeted and applied excessive scrutiny to the applications of conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. Several IRS employees, including the acting commissioner, resigned as a result of the scandal. Investigations by the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Department of Justice are ongoing.