House Panel Advances Bill to Block IRS From Collecting Data on Nonprofit Donors

The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday approved a measure that would block the Internal Revenue Service from collecting data on people who donate to tax-exempt nonprofit groups.

Lawmakers advanced H.R. 5053 on a 23-15 party-line vote, with Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) saying the legislation would get rid of “invasive reporting requirements.”

“As we have seen over the last several years, the IRS has exploited sensitive taxpayer information to penalize tax-exempt organizations that do not align with certain political beliefs,” Brady said in his opening statement at the committee markup. “By eliminating invasive reporting requirements in current law, this legislation will protect taxpayers’ identities and prevent the IRS from improperly targeting particular organizations.”

Democrats oppose the legislation, with Rep. Sander Levin (Mich.), the committee’s top Democrat, saying the legislation is an effort to “solidify the secrecy around the role of big money in campaigns.”

Committee Democrats pointed to support for the measure from Koch Companies Public Sector LLC, which has ties to the GOP donors Charles and David Koch.

Philip Ellender, the firm’s president of government and public affairs, sent Ways and Means members a letter today that called the bill “non-partisan to the core.”

“Prohibiting the IRS from collecting the identity of voters who contribute to non-profits will curtail the agency from any new attempts to target non-profit organizations,” Ellender wrote. “Regardless of the political affiliation of future Administrations, the IRS should never have the latitude to target groups based on certain beliefs.”