Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL) introduced H.R. 599, the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2015.
The bill would prohibit the IRS from changing the way it handles applications for 501(c)4 status. And it would require the IRS to apply the standard it used before the agency started targeting applicants because of their political beliefs. These requirements would expire at the end of 2017, so the IRS could make any necessary adjustments only after ongoing investigations were complete. Upon introduction, Roskam and Ryan released the following statements:
"Americans should never feel silenced or threatened by their own government," said Chairman 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."
"Everyone deserves a fair standard fairly applied," said Chairman 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."
Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Pat Roberts (R-NE) have introduced the bill's counterpart in the Senate, and the two offered the following statements:
"I'd put the IRS's ability to preserve free speech on par with its ability to preserve emails," said Senator 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 college savings, family farms, and middle class Americans, the Obama Administration's tax collectors at the IRS remain mired in scandals," said Senator 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."