Jeff Flake - U.S. Senator ~ Arizona

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Flake, Roberts Reintroduce Bill to Prevent IRS Political Targeting

Ryan, Roskam Lead Companion Legislation in House

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) today reintroduced the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act. The bicameral bill would stop cold further attempts by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to exploit bureaucratic loopholes to restrict the free speech rights of the same tax-exempt social welfare organizations victimized in the IRS political targeting scandal.

The bill is cosponsored by 33 additional senators, including U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Cornyn (R-TX), John McCain (R-AZ), John Barrasso (R-WY), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). Reps. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Peter Roskam (R-IL) today introduced identical companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Specifically, this legislation would prohibit this 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. One such rulemaking, currently being rewritten by the IRS due to unprecedented public outcry, would have limited civic-minded groups from participating in even nonpartisan activities such as voter registration drives and voter guide distribution.

The regulatory and rulemaking prohibition in the bill would expire in Feb. 2017, following the end of the current administration.

“I'd put the IRS's ability to preserve free speech on par with its ability to preserve emails,” said Flake. “This bill would not only prevent this administration's IRS from targeting nonprofits, it would protect those groups' First Amendment right of free speech, regardless of ideology.”

 

“While the President is proposing more taxes on family farms, and middle class Americans, the Obama Administration’s tax collectors at the IRS remain mired in scandals,” said Roberts. “As a result, our legislation is very simple – we halt further action on the IRS’ proposed targeting regulations until the Justice Department and congressional investigations into the IRS’ previous targeting are complete. We cannot allow the IRS to regulate constitutionally guaranteed free speech.”

 

“Everyone deserves a fair standard fairly applied,” said Ryan. “And for too long, the IRS has targeted people because of their political beliefs. This bill will send a clear message: We won’t tolerate the agency’s shenanigans. And I want to thank Chairman Roskam and Senators Flake and Roberts for their work on this issue.”

 

“Americans should never feel silenced or threatened by their own government,” said Roskam. “And yet the IRS regulations targeting tax-exempt organizations would clamp down on political engagement, impeding even non-partisan efforts like voter registration drives and candidate forums. This legislation will stop IRS abuse and protect the American people’s fundamental right to speak out on the issues they care about.”

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