WASHINGTON -- Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if it would interest them.
My Washington, D.C., office has moved to a new location in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 361. This historic office was occupied by Richard Nixon during his time serving as Vice President of the United States from 1953-1961. If you are planning a trip to our nation’s capital please take note of the new location. Click here for a full list of contact information for my Washington and Kansas offices.
IRS Targeting: Pursuing Answers to the Many Questions Americans Have
The politicization of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is not a conservative or liberal issue. No matter your political stripes – the revelations that surfaced this week of the IRS’ intentional targeting of groups based on their political leanings are highly offensive. On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report detailing the targeting of applications for conservative groups seeking tax exempt status based solely on the presence of political buzzwords such as “tea party” and/or “patriot” listed in the application. TIGTA’s formal recognition that this entirely inappropriate protocol took place gives real credibility to numerous reports over the last year that the IRS also "inadvertently" released donor information from conservative groups – and that information ended up in the hands of political opponents. I believe this is one more facet of a scandal that is not going away anytime soon.
I am a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the budgets of the Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service. Last Wednesday, May 8, I questioned Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller in this committee directly about the troubling evidence that the IRS illegally released donor lists for partisan political purposes.The release of nonprofit donor lists is not only highly illegal – it is terribly damaging to our Democracy. To make matters worse, evidence suggests the groups that improperly received this information intended to use it for partisan political purposes.
Even though publishing unauthorized tax returns or return information is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000, or both, the group that received the information appears to have done just that. Less than 48 hours after I questioned Secretary Lew about this issue, the IRS apologized for the unfair targeting of conservative nonprofit applicants.
I have further questions as to whom and how protected Schedule B donor lists were released to the political opponents of targeted conservative groups. In a formal written inquiry to Secretary Lew and Acting Commissioner Miller, I questioned the extent of the improper release of these documents by IRS employees as well as the status of any pending criminal investigation into the political groups who knowingly published this legally protected information. Click here to read my full list of questions.
Every American should expect even-handed treatment by the Internal Revenue Service – and that clearly is not the IRS we have. I look forward to receiving answers from the Administration.