Coalition Letter: Protect Donor Privacy from Government Abuse, Eliminate Schedule B

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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 

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