Rep. Kelly Introduces Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act
Bill will help prevent IRS leaks of private citizens’ information
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight – issued the following statement today after introducing H.R. 1026, the Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act, which would amend the tax code to permit the release of certain information regarding the status of ongoing investigations related to the improper disclosure of taxpayer information by employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Under Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code, it is currently a felony for an IRS official to disclose such information to the public or to another government agency, which bars victims of wrongful IRS leaks from knowing the status of their no-longer private information.
“The revelation of the IRS’s targeting of innocent American citizens shook the foundation of the American people’s relationship with their government. The scandal took a sharp turn for the worse when we discovered that the private information of many American taxpayers was deliberately leaked to outside organizations. Insult was added to injury when the victims of these leaks were denied access to any information about the agency’s investigations into these criminal matters. The Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act will restore essential accountability to this troubled agency by changing the tax code to grant American citizens the critical transparency that they deserve but have been wrongly denied. With illicit targeting apparently still transpiring, this commonsense legislation is more necessary than ever.”
BACKGROUND: On May 13, 2013, it was revealed that the IRS division headed by now-retired official Lois Lerner shared highly confidential tax-exempt status applications from multiple conservative groups with ProPublica, a private outside organization. In October 2013, it was reported that the agency “shared highly confidential tax information of several Tea Party groups in the IRS scandal with the Federal Election Commission, a clear violation of federal law.”
On February 26, 2015, it was reported that, “Nearly two years after the IRS was exposed for improperly sidetracking requests for tax exemptions from tea party groups, … at least a half-dozen conservative applicants are still waiting for an answer.”
NOTE: Since news of the IRS targeting scandal first broke in May 2013, Rep. Kelly has been a prominent vocal leader in the ongoing pursuit for answers and accountability. After earning a standing ovation for his fierce scolding of then-IRS commissioner Steven Miller at the Ways and Means Committee’s first-ever hearing on the scandal, The Washington Post’s Right Turn blog named Rep. Kelly its “Distinguished Pol of the Week.” The New York Post declared that Rep. Kelly’s words “ought to be emblazoned across the entryway of every IRS office in America.”
In response to the scandal, Rep. Kelly re-introduced the Government Employee Accountability Act, which would grant all federal agencies the power to fire reckless Senior Executive Service employees (such as ex-IRS official Lois Lerner) on the spot, or place them on “investigative leave” without pay. The legislation was passed by the House of Representatives on August 1, 2013, as part of the Stop Government Abuse Act (H.R. 2879) by a bipartisan vote of 239-176. Rep. Kelly re-introduced the bill once again on February 4, 2015.