Newhouse Votes to Rein in IRS Abuse and Protect Free Speech
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 5053, the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act, which was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Newhouse cosponsored this legislation to eliminate the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Schedule B form—a portion of Form 990, the annual return that most non-profits are required to file. This form requires non-profit groups to report the names of anyone who contributes more than $5,000.
“Three years after we learned that the IRS was unfairly targeting conservative nonprofits, the IRS has deservedly lost trust of Americans for misusing its authority to suppress political speech,” said Rep. Newhouse. “I was proud to cosponsor this legislation to protect First Amendment rights regardless of anyone’s political beliefs by preventing the IRS from forcing private nonprofits to submit the names and personal information of supporters. This legislation would prevent the IRS from improperly disclosing the political beliefs of Americans who exercise their right to contribute to private nonprofits of their choice.”
Tax-exempt, non-profit organizations are currently required to file Form 990 Schedule B that lists donors of more than $5,000 in the previous calendar year. Although federal law prohibits the IRS from releasing Schedule Bs, in the past this information has been exploited to target conservatives. Ahead of the 2012 presidential election, the IRS improperly released the National Organization of Marriage’s (NOM) unredacted Schedule B form, which revealed a contribution from a pro-Mitt Romney group. The IRS was eventually ordered to pay NOM $50,000 in damages for releasing this confidential information.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has said this information is completely irrelevant to an organization’s tax-exempt status and that the IRS is already considering getting rid of the Schedule B. The commissioner told the Senate in July 2015: “On your 990 you list donors—although we’re about to try to change that. As a general matter, who gives to you should not matter as to what you’re about to do.”