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Upton Demands Taxpayer Protection from IRS Targeting

Upton cosponsors legislation to criminalize IRS discrimination against taxpayers

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Washington, DC, May 17, 2013 | Lynn Turner / Nick Culp (269-385-0039 / 202-225-3761) | comments
Following the exposure of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) actions that targeted conservative-leaning organizations, Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, is demanding stronger protections for American taxpayers by making it a crime for IRS employees to engage in targeted discrimination. Upton is a cosponsor of the Taxpayer Nondiscrimination and Protection Act of 2013, H.R. 1950, which aims to prevent such biased, politically-motivated discrimination by increasing the maximum penalty for IRS employee misconduct against taxpayers from termination to a criminal punishment.

“This thuggish abuse of power is outrageous and undermines the public trust,” said Upton. “Such wrongful discrimination threatens our constitutional rights of free political speech and expression – it’s simply un-American. No administration is above the law; we must ensure full public accountability and guarantee that American taxpayers are never the targets of their own government.”

H.R. 1950 would allow the federal government to impose a fine, up to five years imprisonment, or both for an IRS employee engaging in such discrimination. This is identical to the maximum imprisonment for a member of the President’s Cabinet who directs an employee to take that sort of action. The legislation further reaffirms that political speech and political expression are rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. 

In a May 10, 2013, appearance before the American Bar Association, Lois Lerner, head of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, acknowledged that the agency has been targeting conservative-leaning groups.  That statement directly contradicts testimony and written responses provided by the IRS to Congress during the course of a nearly two-year investigation initiated by the House Committee on Ways and Means and joined by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

On Tuesday, May 14, 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration issued a 54-page report concerning the IRS’s use of “inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention.” Click HERE to read that report.
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