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Upton Votes to Rein in an IRS Run Amok

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WASHINGTON, DC, July 16, 2014 | Lynn Turner / Nick Culp (269-385-0039 / 202-225-3761) | comments

U.S. Representative Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, today voted for legislation – H.R. 5016, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015 – to hold the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accountable for its actions against American taxpayers. Overall, this legislation reduces funding for the IRS by $1.48 billion compared to the previous fiscal year, and includes a number of provisions to stop the agency’s targeting of individuals based on their political beliefs. H.R. 5016 is the seventh appropriations bill passed by the House of Representatives this year (the Senate has yet to pass one) and was approved by a vote of 228 to 195.

“Congress has a responsibility to hold accountable those who mismanage taxpayer dollars and abuse the authority with which they have been entrusted,” said Upton. “The IRS is an agency plagued by reckless abuse and an unwillingness to be forthright with the American people and their elected representatives. This legislation provides the IRS with the necessary funding to perform its essential duties, but forces the agency to tighten its belt and refocus on serving the American people.”

Among the provisions in H.R. 5016: 

  • A prohibition on a proposed regulation related to political activities and the tax-exempt status of 501(c)(4) organizations. The proposed regulation could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of many non-profit organizations and inhibit citizens from exercising their right to freedom of speech, simply because they may be involved in political activity.

  • A prohibition on funds for bonuses or awards unless employee conduct and tax compliance is given consideration.

  • A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs.

  • A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights.

  • A prohibition on funding for the production of inappropriate videos and conferences.

  • A prohibition on funding for the White House to order the IRS to determine the tax-exempt status of an organization.

  • A requirement for extensive reporting on IRS spending.

  • A funding prohibition on destroying IRS records in contravention with the Federal Records Act.

Upton joined fellow House Members this May in voting to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena to provide testimony regarding the agency’s targeting of conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status.

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