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house Bill H.R. 5053

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.

operaman's Opinion
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05/03/2016
The IRS only collected this "donors list" for political use. Time for the IRS to collect taxes, not Data. And they can start with their scofflaw employees.
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BTSundra's Opinion
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05/05/2016
The IRS has already been exposed to use this information to persecute conservatives, so they evidently cannot be trusted with this information.
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DeanLA's Opinion
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03/09/2017
“The Schedule B is not needed for taxpayer administration. In fact, the IRS has indicated they were considering eliminating the requirement themselves… The IRS has not demonstrated the capacity to safeguard confidential information in the past. There is no reason we should send them any more sensitive information than they need to do their job.” I agree. Liberals defend the IRS no matter what it does. When conservative groups proved the IRS was discriminating against them, liberals quickly defended the IRS. Congress should take away this privilege from the IRS.
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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.

Nancy's Opinion
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05/05/2016
It is common sense and the public has the right to know who is contributing to specific nonprofits. Nonprofits don't pay taxes, they receive special exemptions, the public supports their activities, we deserve to know. The only individuals interested in suppressing this information are those hiding information they know would be damaging if the public found out. That makes it even more imperative that the public have access to this information.
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Steven's Opinion
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05/05/2016
Part of the problem in our current system, people want to hide what they do. I f what you're doing is on the level why the need for secrecy?
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David's Opinion
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05/07/2016
Give the donors the right to give anonymously? What a great idea--that way more money can pour into the political process without any transparency or accountability. Only someone's with things to hide would think so.
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What is House Bill H.R. 5053?

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. 5053

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 Schedule B is not needed for taxpayer administration. In fact, the IRS has indicated they were considering eliminating the requirement themselves… The IRS has not demonstrated the capacity to safeguard confidential information in the past. There is no reason we should send them any more sensitive information than they need to do their job.”

Congressional Democrats have taken a dimmer view of this proposal, with Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) citing 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 was passed by the House Ways and Means Committee on a party-line, 23-15 vote with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed.


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. California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris is involved in a publicized legal battle with Americans for Prosperity (AFP) over Schedule B forms, which Harris claims are necessary to “protect taxpayers against fraud.”

Harris’ case suffered a setback following an April 2016 federal court ruling that the disclosures are unconstitutional, though an appeal is pending. 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 has 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.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Finance
  • The house Passed June 14th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 240 Yea / 182 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedApril 26th, 2016

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    The IRS only collected this "donors list" for political use. Time for the IRS to collect taxes, not Data. And they can start with their scofflaw employees.
    Like (27)
    Follow
    Share
    It is common sense and the public has the right to know who is contributing to specific nonprofits. Nonprofits don't pay taxes, they receive special exemptions, the public supports their activities, we deserve to know. The only individuals interested in suppressing this information are those hiding information they know would be damaging if the public found out. That makes it even more imperative that the public have access to this information.
    Like (37)
    Follow
    Share
    Part of the problem in our current system, people want to hide what they do. I f what you're doing is on the level why the need for secrecy?
    Like (22)
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    The IRS has already been exposed to use this information to persecute conservatives, so they evidently cannot be trusted with this information.
    Like (19)
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    Give the donors the right to give anonymously? What a great idea--that way more money can pour into the political process without any transparency or accountability. Only someone's with things to hide would think so.
    Like (14)
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    We are entering an age of more transparency not less.
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    I'm uncomfortable with adding ease to the process of election fraud.
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    “The Schedule B is not needed for taxpayer administration. In fact, the IRS has indicated they were considering eliminating the requirement themselves… The IRS has not demonstrated the capacity to safeguard confidential information in the past. There is no reason we should send them any more sensitive information than they need to do their job.” I agree. Liberals defend the IRS no matter what it does. When conservative groups proved the IRS was discriminating against them, liberals quickly defended the IRS. Congress should take away this privilege from the IRS.
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    I don't mind anyone knowing which groups I support.
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    HELL NO!! Most of the non-profits in question are actually political groups hiding from the IRS & then whining when they are questioned about their activities. Ordinary citizens don't receive exemptions for whining, why should dark money groups disguised as charities get a pass? This is another conservative way to hurt normal people while allowing their friends to game the system. The whole category should be eliminated! Tax them & then we can see if they enjoy having to pay for the privilege of lying, cheating & stealing without the Congress protecting their dishonest asses!
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    There should be a public record of all donors to tax-exempt organizations. If these organizations are to receive tax-exempt status, the IRS (and potentially the public) has a right to know who is donating.
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    The IRS needs to have some way to verify that organizations are tax exempt, not violating (tax) laws & that they are paying the correct amount.
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    This will dark money darker. This representatives doing what their money masters want. Only one purpose to make dark money darker. But I have no confidence in republicans going against their owners. This will open the door for foreign money to enter our political system. They already own our government so high will they jump when their told to jump.
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    Simple question - What are they going to do with the info? Does that seem right?
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    Not no but hell no. This is congress attempting to put even more money in their own pockets
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    The government doesn't need to know your every move or know who you donate money to. Keeping/creating these records costs tons of tax dollars.
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    The IRS isn't supposed to know what kind of people they are getting taxes from. Information like this is only used for political purposes.
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    Any source of funding for a government election should be disclosed to the public. You care enough to give a person money, for what purpose if you don't support the candidate? Stand by your principles. If you're afraid to be honest with the public then that means you know morally there's something twisted. It's all your issue, not the public's burden.
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    Transparency all the way.
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    The IRS has abused the power it has for political reasons. The IRS must not be given any more power.
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