House Budget Slashes IRS Funding (Good Luck With That In The Senate)

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The GOP-controlled House of Representatives is taking aim at the Internal Revenue Service in a proposed spending bill that trims more than $300 million from the agency’s present allotment.

It’s far from a defund, but fiscal leaders within the Republican Party are making it clear that the proposed reduction has everything to do with the agency’s targeting of conservative groups, as well as its role in administering next year’s non-participation penalties in the still-creaky rollout of Obamacare.

“In order to make these investments and to be good stewards of each and every tax dollar, the bill focuses cuts on lower-priority or poor-performing agencies — such as the scandal-plagued and inefficient Internal Revenue Service,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) Tuesday.

The 2015 Financial Services and General Appropriations bill still allots approximately $10.95 billion to fund the IRS, although President Obama has requested that Congress increase the agency’s funding to roughly $12.5 billion. It attaches some symbolic strings to the IRS portion:

From the House statement accompanying the bill’s release:

In addition, due to the inappropriate actions by the IRS in targeting groups that hold certain political beliefs, as well as its previous improper use of taxpayer funds, the bill includes the following provisions:

  • 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.

Like nearly everything else of real consequence that emanates from Washington, the chances of the IRS cut making into a final bill are slim. The Senate, which is still under Democrat majority control, isn’t likely to include another key provision in the House bill: severing the IRS from its Obamacare enforcement role. “The legislation would also prevent the IRS from further implementing Obamacare, and a separate rider would bar funding for the IRS to implement the law’s individual mandate,” The Hill reported today.

That’s obviously going nowhere, but that provision could fall away as a built-in bargaining chip GOP leaders may surrender as a means of keeping the fiscal cuts intact.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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