House passes bills aimed at preventing IRS targeting, increasing transparency

The GOP-led House voted Tuesday to block the IRS from asking about religious, political, or social beliefs, and to require the embattled agency to notify taxpayers when their information has been shared with other government agencies.

The Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act, introduced by Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., in the wake of the IRS targeting scandal, would limit what the agency can ask taxpayers and overhaul the process for groups applying for tax-exempt status.

Roskam said IRS efforts to get details on the operations of several conservative groups dating back to early 2010 was a "shameful abuse and a shameful scandal," The Hill reported.

The House also approved the Taxpayer Transparency and Efficient Audit Act, which would require the IRS to inform taxpayers when the agency has shared their tax information with another government agency and limit IRS audits to one year.

Roskam, who also sponsored the second bill, said Congress needs to guide the IRS to ensure the agency works in a "limited fashion, to be wise, not to be abusive, not to be lording power over taxpayers," according to The Hill.

Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., the only Democratic lawmaker to speak during Tuesday's floor debate, said Republican budget cuts will make it impossible for the IRS to comply with the bill's requirement that taxpayer letters receive prompt responses.

"The Republicans can't have it both ways," Davis said. "You can't both complain about the IRS not answering its mail in 30 days, and then demand that its budget be cut at the same time."

The House also approved the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act, which would require each federal agency to provide detailed, annual reports on its programs in an effort to identify and prevent government waste, The Hill reported.

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