January 07, 2016
Common sense isn't exactly a common theme at the IRS. But the year is off to a surprisingly good start at Americans' least favorite agency now that officials have put the kibosh on a ridiculous charitable donation idea. Early last month, we told you about a worrisome new proposal from the IRS that would give 501(c)(3) organizations (like FRC) "the option" of doing away with their written acknowledgements of donations over $250 and consider sending all of their donors' personal information to the agency instead.
For several reasons -- not the least of which is the IRS's horrible track record of data leaks and political harassment -- nonprofits of all stripes strenuously objected, arguing that it wouldn't be long until this "optional system" became mandatory. As it stands, groups like FRC don't ask for -- nor do they need -- donors' Social Security information to process gifts. If they were forced to, it would significantly raise the cost of securing that data. More importantly, it would scare away potential donors, who (naturally) doubt the government's reliability when it comes to safeguarding their personal details. And even if both sides could be trusted, the system itself is rife for abuse.
After more than 38,000 public comments -- some of them yours! -- the IRS announced today that it was dropping the idea entirely. More than 200 charitable groups weighed in against the proposal, which would have discouraged people from giving. "The Treasury Department and IRS received a substantial number of public comments in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking," it wrote in the Federal Register. "Accordingly, the notice... is being withdrawn." Our thanks to all of you who chimed in! While we may not feel like it, the government still responds when citizens are engaged.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.