Connect with Point of View   to get exclusive commentary and updates

Taxpayer Bill of Rights

As we get closer to April 15, more and more Americans hope they don’t have to deal with the IRS and an audit of their tax returns. But some Americans have had to deal with the IRS for years just to get a tax-exempt status.

You may remember the IRS scandal from five years ago. Congress demanded answers, and the IRS and other political officials said the problem was just a few rogue employees in Ohio. Congress asked for the emails of Lois Lerner. Well, we were told, they were lost in a hard disk crash and there was no backup. Congress never seemed to be able to get satisfactory answers.

Fortunately, Congress did something about it. House Speaker Paul Ryan explains in a recent column that they were able to implement policy reforms that will make a difference to future religious groups and political groups.

Congress learned that the IRS was threatening to impose a gift tax on donors to conservative non-profit groups. That would have forced many of these groups to close their doors. Congress passed a law making it clear that these donations are exempt.

Because of the actions of Congress, a codified Taxpayer Bill of Rights hangs in every IRS building. It prevents agency employees, like Lois Lerner, from using their personal email addresses for official business. Organizations can now self-declare their tax-exempt status. If the IRS rescinds their status, they have a right to appeal.

Many Americans fear the power of the IRS, and the IRS scandal from a few years ago shows that fear is justified. Fortunately, Congress has been able to reign in some of the excesses that surfaced five years ago and make it easier for religious and political groups to function without problems and intimidation.

Viewpoints by Kerby Anderson

Viewpoints sign-up