WASHINGTON -- Senator Mike Braun and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell today introduced a bill to prevent the IRS from being used as a political weapon against conservative non-profit groups.
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 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.
The bill is cosponsored by 43 Republican Senators. Joining Senators Braun and McConnell are Senators Mike Crapo, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Shelley Moore Capito, Mike Lee, Cynthia Lummis, Thom Tillis, Ron Johnson, Rand Paul, Mike Rounds, Marsha Blackburn, Richard Shelby, John Cornyn, Roger Marshall, Tommy Tuberville, John Barrasso, Josh Hawley, Steve Daines, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Ted Cruz, Rick Scott, Jim Risch, Pat Toomey, Kevin Cramer, Joni Ernst, James Lankford, Jerry Moran, James Inhofe, Roger Wicker, John Thune, Todd Young, Chuck Grassley, Roy Blunt, Ben Sasse, Bill Hagerty, John Boozman, Deb Fischer, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, John Hoeven, and John Kennedy.
“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.” – Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican Leader
“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.” – Senator Mike Crapo, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee
“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.” – Senator Mike Braun
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
Quotes in Support of ‘Don’t Weaponize the IRS’ Act
"Americans should not be targeted simply due to the views they hold, political or otherwise. Unfortunately, we've seen in the past exactly what happens when the federal government is empowered to go after people for just that. Senator Braun's leadership in preventing the federal government from weaponizing the IRS against its own citizens is not only laudable, but critical to the preservation of our constitutionally-guaranteed rights." - Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks
“Senator Braun and Senator McConnell should be applauded for introducing the Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act. The IRS has an extensive track record of ineptitude, incompetence, and targeting taxpayers based on their political beliefs. This bill will codify important protections for non-profit organizations irrespective of their political affiliation and ensure that the IRS has one less tool to harass Americans that are exercising their first amendment rights.” - Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
“The IRS should not be the speech police, and the ‘Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act’ would make sure it isn’t. The bill is good for both free speech and good government. It would encourage more Americans to join and support nonprofits by protecting their personal information from prying bureaucrats. The IRS itself has said collecting this information is an unnecessary burden. Senator Braun’s bill offers an alternative to efforts to politicize and weaponize the IRS, like H.R. 1 and S. 1, and lets the agency focus on providing taxpayer service and fair enforcement of the tax laws. The Institute for Free Speech appreciates the efforts of Senator Braun, Leader McConnell, and the other cosponsors of this bill for supporting Americans’ privacy rights.” - David Keating, President, Institute for Free Speech
“People shouldn’t have to choose between supporting a cause and becoming a political target. Stripping people of their privacy makes it easier for politicians of all stripes to monitor, intimidate, and silence people who join movements those in power oppose. This bill protects the rights of all Americans to support the causes they care about. And we are proud to stand in support of it.” - Brent Wm. Gardner, Chief Government Affairs Officer, Americans for Prosperity
“Transparency is for government and privacy is for people. The “Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act” is important legislation that will ensure the IRS does not collect and store nonprofit donors’ private information - information the IRS does not need to enforce tax code. This prevents the IRS from becoming the “speech police” and infringing on Americans' constitutionally protected activities and beliefs.” - Heather Lauer, Executive Director, People United for Privacy
“We support the Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act to codify the May 2020 rule that ended the forced disclosure of private donor lists. This information had no legitimate use -- but was frequently subject to misuse and abuse. The "transparency" rationale put forward by Democrats is a dead giveaway—confidential information can't be transparent unless it is improperly and illegally leaked.” - Phil Kerpen, President, American Commitment
“AMAC Action is pleased to support the Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act. This legislation is necessary to safeguard people’s privacy rights and ensure that Americans do not become political targets simply because they take an opposing position to that of those who are currently in power.” - Bob Carlstrom, President, AMAC Action
“While Democrats push their dream bill, the Corrupt Politicians Act (S. 1) to put Americans who support conservative organizations on a list to be targeted by the woke mob, Senator Braun is pushing back. The Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act is a welcome defense of Americans’ First Amendment right to freely associate with groups that align with their values. No American should fear government retribution based on their religious or political beliefs, and this legislation helps prevent a repeat of the Obama-era IRS targeting scandal.” - Garrett Bess, Vice President, Heritage Action for America
“The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste strongly supports the ‘Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act,’ introduced by Sen. Mike Braun and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. The legislation will codify IRS rules that prevent nonprofit organizations from being subject to intrusive and partisan IRS interference with their First Amendment rights. S. 1 and H.R. 1 include provisions that would begin to undermine that rule as part of a larger effort to regulate political activity and free speech. Sens. Braun and McConnell should be commended for introducing this legislation." – Tom Schatz, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
"To protect the interests of taxpayers, the IRS's authority must have appropriate guardrails. The Don't Weaponize the IRS Act helps limit the agency's ability to engage in politically motivated attacks against non-profit organizations. National Taxpayers Union is proud to endorse this legislation." - Brandon Arnold, Executive Vice President, National Taxpayers Union