National Taxpayers Union (NTU) applauds House passage of H.R. 5053, the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act. Introduced by Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL), this legislation would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury from requiring 501(c) tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations to divulge the identities of their donors in their annual returns, and pre-empt further violations of both taxpayer privacy and free speech by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
“Hacking incidents, tax return fraud perpetrated by employees, a leaked non-profit organization’s donor list, and ideological targeting in determining the tax status of not-for-profit organizations – these missteps by the IRS create a troubling pattern of abuse and overreach by one of the most powerful agencies in Washington,” NTU Executive Vice President Brandon Arnold stated.
“Preventing the collection of sensitive donor information by the IRS eliminates a serious threat to privacy and freedom of speech. We’re grateful to all the Members of Congress who supported this bill’s passage, to House Leadership for moving quickly to bring an urgent piece of legislation to the floor, and especially to Representative Roskam for taking the lead on this issue. NTU urges the Senate to consider H.R. 5053 as soon as possible.”
The growing threat of public disclosure via leaks or political targeting has created a significant barrier to donating and a chilling effect on the free speech of both individuals and nonprofit organizations. Based on past IRS actions, the agency is determined to impose more restrictions and disclosure requirements on 501(c) organizations and the donors that support them.
The danger posed by Schedule B and other IRS proposed disclosures extends far beyond the Beltway to non-political organizations. Without the donor privacy protections of H.R. 5053, nonprofits large and small could risk losing the support needed to carry out their missions.
This is a high price to pay for a form the IRS has stated it could do without. It’s essential that the Senate take action to help preserve the robust charitable sector that serves such an essential role in our society.