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Sens. Cruz, Braun, Leader McConnell Introduce ‘Don’t Weaponize the IRS’ Act

‘When the Obama Administration used the IRS to silence and punish its political enemies, it embodied everything wrong with Washington’

May 21, 2021

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this week introduced a bill to prevent the IRS from being used as a political weapon against conservative non-profit groups.

The bill is cosponsored by 42 Republican Senators, including: Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and John Kennedy (R-La.).

From 2010 to 2012, the Obama IRS spent over two years systematically targeting conservative tax-exempt groups. The Trump administration released a final rule in May 2020 that prevented the IRS from targeting certain tax-exempt groups based on their political beliefs.

House Democrats' H.R. 1 - the "For the People Act" - and Senate companion legislation S. 1 seek to repeal and undermine the Trump rule in order to weaponize the IRS to target nonprofit organizations based on the applicants' political and policy positions.

The Don't Weaponize the IRS Act codifies the Trump rule that protects groups regardless of their political ideology or beliefs and prevents the IRS from doxing donors to these groups.

Removing the requirement to report the names and addresses of donors helps protect taxpayers' First Amendment rights: such information is not needed for tax administration purposes.

Upon introduction, Sen. Cruz said:

"No politician has the right to use the machinery of the Executive Branch to target their political enemies. When the Obama Administration used the IRS to silence and punish its political enemies, it embodied everything wrong with Washington. I am proud to join Leader McConnell and Sen. Braun on this bill to ensure that no Administration, Democrat or Republican, can abuse their power in the IRS and target its political opponents."

Republican Leader Sen. McConnell said:

"The American people remember all too well what can happen when the IRS is allowed to subject individuals to unequal scrutiny, depending on their political beliefs," said McConnell. "The prior administration was right to intervene and put hard limits on the sort of personal information unelected bureaucrats could demand from nonprofit organizations and their donors. In the face of left-wing plans to tear down these commonsense protections, our bill would codify them permanently. I'm proud to stand with Senator Braun, the overwhelming majority of our Republican colleagues, and with citizens across America in defense of the First Amendment."

Sen. Crapo said:

"Politics has no place in federal tax compliance efforts. We have seen what happens when the IRS misuses information in its possession to target specific groups or individuals. Providing the IRS with additional private information that it doesn't even need to perform its tax administration responsibilities would only further put the privacy and constitutional rights of American citizens at risk."

Sen. Braun added:

"We saw during the Obama years that the IRS was used as a political weapon to target conservative nonprofits, and under H.R.1 the Biden IRS would be empowered to block tax-exempt status and publicly expose a group's donors to harassment from liberal groups and the media if their beliefs are deemed to be politically unfavorable. This bill will prevent the IRS from being weaponized against conservatives like it was under President Obama."

The bill is endorsed by the following groups:

American Commitment
Americans for Prosperity
Americans for Tax Reform
Association of Mature American Citizens
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Club for Growth
Freedom Works
Heritage Action for America
Institute for Free Speech
National Taxpayers Union
People United for Privacy

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