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house Bill H.R. 4916

Does the IRS Need to Stop Collecting Information on Donors to Tax-Exempt Groups?

Argument in favor

Requiring the submission of the names and addresses of donors to tax-exempt groups has a chilling effect on free speech. Besides, the IRS is already considering ending these disclosures because it and state regulators have inadvertently disclosed personal information to the public.

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02/21/2018
The government has no need for this information
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Walter's Opinion
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02/21/2018
Obama’s IRS has already demonstrated how this power can be abused.
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DaveSnyder's Opinion
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02/21/2018
Yes. Freedom of speech is jeopardized when IRS is weaponized with data on who is donating to what causes. This is a no-brainer after what happened to TeaParty groups and those donating to them during Obama administration. And if liberals want to argue, just think if this administration decided to use IRS to punish communist groups and people donating to them. Should not happen in either instance under our 1st Amendment.
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Argument opposed

Disclosures of donor names, addresses, and donation amounts don’t deter people from donating to causes they believe in. Even if there are accidental public releases of confidential information, these disclosures are needed to ensure that taxpayers aren’t being defrauded by these groups.

Chuck 's Opinion
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02/21/2018
This is an attempt to hide questionable non profits from scrutiny. Many of which are promoting purely political agendas. Full disclosure is necessary to ensure tax dodges are not being conducted
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Evan's Opinion
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02/21/2018
Transparency is crucial and this is an important part of transparency, who is giving who money to get what they want no matter what "side" they are on.
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David's Opinion
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02/21/2018
Transparency is key - especially in these times
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedFebruary 2nd, 2018

What is House Bill H.R. 4916?

This bill would prohibit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from requiring that the identity of contributors to 501(c) organizations be included in Schedule B of those groups’ tax returns. The IRS has been considering eliminating Schedule B disclosures altogether since December 2015.

Current law requires 501(c) groups to submit Schedule B with a list of names, addresses, and donation amounts belonging to donors who gave more than $5,000 in a single tax year. Although the information is confidential under federal law, there have been instances of the IRS and state regulators making the disclosures publicly available.

Impact

Individuals who make donations to tax-exempt organizations; 501(c) organizations; and the IRS.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4916

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) introduced this bill to protect donors to tax-exempt groups from having confidential information on Schedule B forms exposed through the negligence of the IRS or state regulators:

“The IRS targeting of certain groups is an egregious violation of privacy and of the First Amendment and the accessing of Schedule B forms by bad actors within the agency has been a key component of that targeting. The IRS has confirmed that they have no need for the Schedule B, so H.R. 4916 rectifies that and limits the IRS' ability to target organizations based on improper criteria or improperly released information, protecting the personal information of donors.”

In the past, Congressional Democrats took a dimmer view of this bill's predecessor with Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) expressing concerns about foreign donations to such groups being illegally used in elections:

“Currently, foreign money cannot be legally given or spent in our elections. And the only real protection we have against the use of foreign money by politically active 501(c)(4) organizations is that they must disclose their donors to the IRS.”

This legislation has the support of 10 cosponsors in the House, all of whom are Republicans. During the last Congress this bill's predecessor passed the House on a party-line 240-182 vote.


Of Note: Three states — California, Florida, and New York — currently require the Schedule B form to be submitted without any redactions, so all donor information is visible. While she served as California attorney general, current U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D) was involved in a publicized legal battle with Americans for Prosperity (AFP) over Schedule B forms, which Harris claimed are necessary to “protect taxpayers against fraud.”

Harris’ case suffered a setback following an April 2016 federal court ruling that the disclosures are unconstitutional. District Court Judge Manuel Real cited “ample evidence” that AFP’s donors faced death threats and intimidation once their support of the group became public. California published nearly 1,800 confidential Schedule B forms online through its registry of charitable groups, leading Judge Real to say:

“The pervasive, recurring pattern of uncontained Schedule B disclosures — a pattern that has persisted even during this trial — is irreconcilable with the Attorney General’s assurances and contentions as to the confidentiality of Schedule Bs collected by the Registry.”

Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Hareshd5000)

AKA

Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act

Official Title

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury from requiring that the identity of contributors to 501(c) organizations be included in annual returns.

    The government has no need for this information
    Like (25)
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    This is an attempt to hide questionable non profits from scrutiny. Many of which are promoting purely political agendas. Full disclosure is necessary to ensure tax dodges are not being conducted
    Like (128)
    Follow
    Share
    Transparency is crucial and this is an important part of transparency, who is giving who money to get what they want no matter what "side" they are on.
    Like (76)
    Follow
    Share
    Transparency is key - especially in these times
    Like (37)
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    Share
    TRANSPARENCY that’s what I want!!!
    Like (30)
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    Full disclosure is needed.
    Like (29)
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    Do not allow unlimited dark and foreign money to pour into our electoral system by way of “non-profits”. This is a recipe for disaster by welcoming foreign influence and encouraging religious zealotry. Have we not already learned our lesson?!?
    Like (21)
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    Yeah please don’t revoke the requirement to submit donor information to the IRS. We want to keep track of these tax-exempt spendings to ensure that the public isn’t being frauded out of tax money.
    Like (20)
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    How will we ever get the money out if politics if we don’t know who are the donors? This issue is at the heart of where our nation has gone wrong in so many ways.
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    Obama’s IRS has already demonstrated how this power can be abused.
    Like (18)
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    Citizens united is the worst law the Supreme Court ever enacted. Americans need to know who is buying congress or any nonprofit entities
    Like (15)
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    IRS should actually get more data. The IRS should always get the Data it needs.
    Like (14)
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    This guy is working toward the legalization of political corruption.
    Like (12)
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    This has the stench of corruption all over it. This would allow money donated to hide under the cover. What the heck is happening with this GOP Government? Why does everything have a corrupt intent?
    Like (11)
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    Yes. Freedom of speech is jeopardized when IRS is weaponized with data on who is donating to what causes. This is a no-brainer after what happened to TeaParty groups and those donating to them during Obama administration. And if liberals want to argue, just think if this administration decided to use IRS to punish communist groups and people donating to them. Should not happen in either instance under our 1st Amendment.
    Like (10)
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    Transparency for the public. There’s too much covert and dark money already. Take the covers off.
    Like (10)
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    Just as it was for the cartoon character. Casper the Friendly Ghost. TRANSPARENCY is an absolute necessity!
    Like (8)
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    Transparency is needed now more than ever. Tracking donations is a method to keep people like Trump on the straight & narrow.
    Like (7)
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    Get rid of IRS, if not, at least stop them from being a police and surveillance force.
    Like (7)
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    They should escalate the regulations to go after corrupt, unethical non-profits. Many of these organizations should lose their tax exemption status.
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