House Moves Donor Privacy Legislation

Much media attention this week was on a House panel’s party-line vote to advance a resolution that would censure IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. However, another significant legislative effort related to the tax agency, the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act, was approved by the full House of Representatives on Tuesday. This legislation, authored by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), would prohibit the IRS from requiring the identities of donors to nonprofit organizations.

Current law requires 501(c) organizations to report on Schedule B of the IRS Form 990 information about donors giving $5,000 or more in a calendar year. However, particularly after the leak of National Organization for Marriage’s donor list in 2012 and more recent demands by state attorneys general for these forms, concern has grown that the mishandling of such information could chill First Amendment freedoms of donors. 

Following passage of his bill, Rep. Roskam said, “We voted to eliminate a confidential form the IRS proved incapable of securing. The agency has said it doesn’t even need this form for tax administration in the first place. Either one of these facts should be reason enough to eliminate an onerous regulation. In this case, we have both.”

This legislation now goes to the Senate where Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) this week introduced a similar bill.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: June 17, 2016

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