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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

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December 14, 2017 • 10:37 am

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Home Press Room Coalition of More Than 50 Organizations and Individuals to Congress: Protect Donor Privacy from Government Abuse, Eliminate Schedule B
Coalition of More Than 50 Organizations and Individuals to Congress: Protect Donor Privacy from Government Abuse, Eliminate Schedule B Print
Tuesday, November 28 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a broad coalition made up of more than 50 of the nation’s most influential conservative and libertarian organizations and individuals, led by the Center for Individual Freedom ("CFIF"), sent a letter urging Congress to protect First Amendment freedoms of speech and association by eliminating the 990 Schedule B form requirement for 501(c) organizations. 

Schedule B, which is a mandatory IRS form for nonprofit organizations, lists the names, addresses and other intimate information of certain donors.  It is supposed to remain private and confidential.  Indeed, the IRS is legally prohibited from actually using the sensitive information it collects on Schedule B forms for any meaningful purpose. The agency’s collection and retention of that information, however, has resulted in persecution and targeting by not only IRS and other government officials, but also hackers, cyberstalkers and political extremists unwilling to tolerate political and policy views with which they disagree.

"As acknowledged by the IRS itself, Schedule B information is inapplicable to the legally permissible handling of 501(c) organization tax filings," the coalition wrote in the letter, which is addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  "Eliminating Schedule B will not only make tax compliance easier, but also help limit the ability of the IRS and others, including state officials with access to the information, to chill free speech and civic participation among the public." 

Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives voted affirmatively to eliminate Schedule B in the form of H.R. 5053, the "Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act," sponsored by Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL).  Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced S. 3057 under the same title in the U.S. Senate. 

"There simply is no justification for the IRS to continue to collect this confidential information," said CFIF President Jeffrey Mazzella. "Congress should therefore act without delay to eliminate Schedule B, which will help limit the ongoing threat to private individuals of targeting and abuse for simply supporting causes in which they believe. Our broad coalition stands united in that goal." 

Read the text of the letter below.

View a PDF version of the letter here


November 28, 2017

The Honorable Paul D. Ryan
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell,

On behalf of millions of taxpayers across America, we hereby urge you to support efforts preventing future Internal Revenue Service (IRS) abuse and protecting First Amendment freedoms of speech and association by eliminating the Schedule B form for 501(c) organizations that contain sensitive identifiable information on contributors to those 501(c) organizations. 
 
Last year, the House of Representatives passed this important legislation in the form of H.R. 5053, the "Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act," sponsored by Representative Peter Roskam (R - Illinois).  Senator Tim Scott (R - South Carolina) introduced S. 3057 under the same title in the Senate. 
 
As acknowledged by the IRS itself, Schedule B information is inapplicable to the legally permissible handling of 501(c) organization tax filings.  Eliminating Schedule B will not only make tax compliance easier, but also help limit the ability of the IRS and others, including state officials with access to the information, to chill free speech and civic participation among the public. 
 
As you are well aware, First Amendment free speech and association rights have come under assault in recent years, with the IRS at the center of the misbehavior.  In multiple high-profile confirmed cases, the IRS has leaked sensitive, private Schedule B information that it had no right or business making public. 
 
As only one example, the agency agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) after an IRS official provided NOM's Schedule B to the adversarial organization Human Rights Campaign, which proceeded to publish it.  Revelations of leaked information, in addition to instances in which the IRS targeted organizations on the basis of perceived ideology, policy positions and names to deny or delay approval of nonprofit legal status, demonstrate that the threat to freedoms of speech, association and petitioning of government are all too real. 
 
Congress must therefore take this opportunity as tax reform begins to strengthen First Amendment protections and prevent future IRS abuse, given the agency's established record of negligent oversight and outright abuse of power.  The protections we urge you to support would address those important goals, and constitute a victory for private citizens and organizations across the political spectrum. 
 
For their part, IRS officials have gone on record in support of eliminating the Schedule B form requirement for some 501(c) classifications.  In December 2015, for example, IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Tamara Ripperda addressed the possibility of eliminating the Schedule B: 
 
The IRS is considering eliminating Schedule B of the Form 990, which asks for the names and addresses of an exempt organization's contributors and for certain information about contributions received.  Tax analysts reported that, at a program sponsored by the Urban Institute, Tammy Ripperda (Director of Exempt Organizations at the IRS) questioned whether the IRS should ask for the names and addresses of contributors, given that this information is not made public, and whether there is a need for the information from a federal tax law enforcement standpoint. 
 
It is therefore clear that the Schedule B form requirement is unnecessary, and only perpetuates the possibility of abuse by IRS officials or outside wrongdoers, including state officials with access to the information.  Accordingly, we urge all Members of Congress to support and enact legislation to finally eliminate the Schedule B form requirement for 501(c) groups. 

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Mazzella
President
Center for Individual Freedom

Lisa B. Nelson
CEO
ALEC Action

Phil Kerpen
President
American Commitment

Steve Pociask
President
American Consumer Institute
Center for Citizen Research

Dan Schneider
Executive Director
American Conservative Union

Sean Noble
President
American Encore

Mark J. Fitzgibbons
President of Corporate Affairs
American Target Advertising, Inc.

Chrissy Harbin
Vice President of External Affairs
Americans for Prosperity

Grover Norquist
President
Americans for Tax Reform

Norman Singleton
President
Campaign for Liberty

John Charles
President & CEO
Cascade Policy Institute

Andrew F. Quinlan
President
Center for Freedom and Prosperity
 
Olivia Grady
Senior Fellow
Center for Worker Freedom

Chuck Muth
President
Citizen Outreach

Twila Brase RN, PHN
President and Co-founder
Citizens' Council for Health Freedom

Michael Bowen
CEO
Coalition for a Strong America

Kent Lassman
President and CEO
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Dan Caldwell
Executive Director
Concerned Veterans for America

Matthew Kandrach
President
Consumer Action for a Strong Economy

Tom Schatz
President
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Katie McAuliffe
Executive Director
Digital Liberty

Ed Martin, President
Rebekah Gantner, Executive Director
Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund

Gary Marx
Former Executive Director
Faith and Freedom Coalition

Nathan Nascimento
Executive Vice President
Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce

Adam Brandon, President
FreedomWorks Inc. and
FreedomWorks Foundation

George Landrith
President
Frontiers of Freedom

Christopher L. Carmouche
Executive Director
GrassTopsUSA

Mario Lopez 
President
Hispanic Leadership Fund

Carrie L. Lukas
President
Independent Women's Forum

Heather R. Higgins
President and CEO
Independent Women's Voice

Andrew Langer
President
Institute for Liberty

Kory Swanson
President & CEO
John Locke Foundation

Dave Trabert
President
Kansas Policy Institute

Seton Motley
President
Less Government

Cleta Mitchell, Esq. 
Attorney for Nonprofit Organizations

Gerrye Johnston
Founder/CEO
Women for Democracy in America, Inc.
 
Chris W. Cox
Executive Director
National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action

Pete Sepp
President
National Taxpayers Union

John A. Tsarpalas
President
Nevada Policy Research Institute

Ron Pearson
President
Pearson & Pipkin

Lorenzo Montanari
Executive Director
Property Rights Alliance

James L. Martin
Founder/Chairman
60 Plus Association

Karen Kerrigan
President & CEO
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Tracie Sharp
President & CEO
State Policy Network

David Williams
President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Judson Phillips
President
Tea Party Nation

Jenny Beth Martin
Co-Founder
Tea Party Patriots

Robert Alt
President & CEO
The Buckeye Institute

Charles Sauer
Founder and President
The Market Institute

Adam Meyerson
President
The Philanthropy Roundtable

Eli Lehrer
President
The R Street Institute

Carol Platt Liebau
President
Yankee Institute for Public Policy

Ron Robinson
President
Young America's Foundation
 

cc:  Chairman Kevin Brady
       Chairman Orrin Hatch
       Members of Congress

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