House budget punishes IRS with 15% cut, halts Obamacare enforcement
By Paul Bedard | June 17, 2014 | 11:58 am
The Internal Revenue Service is about to get slapped with a harsh payback for messing around with conservative groups, blowing wads of tax dollars on employee conferences and helping implement Obamacare.
The House Appropriations Committee is set to OK an IRS budget of $10.9 billion, $1.5 billion under President Obama's request for fiscal year 2015, reducing the agency's budget to 2008 levels.
The goal is to keep the tax agency focused on its “core duties,” and eliminate efforts to judge the political activities of tax-exempt groups and brake its implementation of Obamacare.
The funding is part of a larger $21 billion bill for several agencies including the IRS, Treasury Department and Securities and Exchange Commission. Noting that it cuts $2.3 billion from the president's overall request, Chairman Hal Rogers said, “the bill focuses cuts on lower-priority or poor-performing agencies, such as the scandal-plagued and inefficient Internal Revenue Service.”
The agency has always felt GOP fire, but the controversies over probing Tea Party and conservative groups, lavish spending on conventions and bonuses and a new push to re-evaluate the tax exempt status of political groups has the Republican-controlled House on the war path - one the Democratically-controlled Senate isn't expected to follow when it takes up the same spending bill next week.
Below are the bill highlights about the IRS:
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – Included in the bill is $10.95 billion for the IRS – a cut of $341 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $1.5 billion below the President’s budget request. This will bring the agency’s budget below the sequester level and below the level that was in place in fiscal year 2008. This funding level is sufficient for the IRS to perform its core duties, including taxpayer services and the proper collection of funds, but will require the agency to streamline and make better use of its budget.
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.
ObamaCare –The bill also includes provisions to stop the IRS from further implementing ObamaCare, including a prohibition on any transfers of funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to the IRS for ObamaCare uses, and a prohibition on funding for the IRS to implement an individual insurance mandate on the American people.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com