Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Rep. Stephen
Fincher, R-Tenn., on September 3 announced their intention to introduce
legislation following Congress’s return to session on September 9 requiring the
federal government to notify taxpayers whenever the IRS has accessed their tax
returns or other information. “The IRS violated the First
Amendment rights of the American people when it created what amounted to an
enemies list of conservatives, including Tennessee Tea Party groups, to keep
people quiet,” stated Alexander when announcing the measure.

The IRS Abuse Protection Bill would require the
Treasury Secretary to notify taxpayers, in writing, each time the IRS accesses
their tax accounts, tax returns or other tax return information. The notice must
include who accessed the information, the purpose of doing so and how the
information was accessed. Taxpayers would also receive a copy of the information
accessed and any report issued on how it was used. “This
legislation will give taxpayers the protection they need to make sure the IRS
isn’t using their information in a way that violates their First Amendment
rights to speak up and speak out, for political reasons or otherwise,”
said Alexander.

Fincher also said the IRS actions have been “a blatant violation of the First Amendment” and he is “committed to making sure the IRS is never again used as a political
weapon against any group, conservative or liberal.” Alexander and 45 U.S.
senators previously called on the Obama administration to comply with all
requests by Congress as it examines the IRS’s admitted targeting of conservative
groups and others during the 2012 election. According to Alexander, the Obama
administration’s behavior resembled the Nixon administration’s creation of an
enemies list, which became public as part of the Watergate scandal. He cited
administration statements treating businesses, the media and members of Congress
like enemies, saying Obama should “push the street brawling
out of the White House.”

Fincher had previously introduced the IRS
Employee Responsibility Bill of 2013, which would require IRS employees to be
solely responsibility for their actions, as are civilian employees when taken to
civil court. Under the bill, IRS employees are responsible for their own legal
fees and any judgment awards against them as opposed to current law where the
federal government covers all legal fees and expenses.

By Jeff Carlson, CCH News Staff

Sep. 5, 2013