House tees up vote to delay IRS rules on tax-exempt groups

The House next week is expected to pass a bill to delay pending IRS regulations aimed at limiting the political activities of certain tax-exempt groups.

GOP leaders are expected to call up a bill from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS, H.R. 3865. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), a member of the committee, said this week that Camp's bill would get a vote in the coming days.

"This will come to a House vote next week," he told the Family Research Council's Washington Watch Radio.

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The legislation is a reaction to a rule the IRS proposed in November that would prohibit 501(c)(4) organizations with tax-exempt status from doing voter registration and performing other "get out the vote" activities. The IRS says its aim is to clearly define what activities these groups can participate in and still maintain their tax-exempt status.

But some Republicans see the regulation as a follow-up to the controversial IRS policy of examining only the tax-exempt status of conservative groups. Camp said his committee investigated the IRS targeting scandal, and found that the IRS selected only conservative groups to audit.

Camp said a delay of the IRS rule is needed while his committee investigates further.

"Despite the Administration’s insistence that 'there's nothing to see here,' the Committee has found evidence demonstrating that right-leaning groups were targeted to an extent far beyond what was reported by the Inspector General," Camp said in January. "Our investigation is still ongoing and the Committee has not received all the requested documents.

"It is premature to publish new rules before getting all of the facts."

Camp also argues that the 501(c)(4) groups are exercising their rights, and that the IRS should not be in the business of trying to limit their work.

"We cannot allow these draft regulations to go into effect," he said. "Congress must make sure every American’s right to participate and engage in civic debate is protected, and this legislation will provide some much-needed assurance that IRS targeting and surveillance will not continue."

Camp's bill would delay the IRS rule for one year; the IRS is still taking public comment on it through Feb. 27.

In his radio interview, Brady predicted the bill would easily pass the House, but acknowledged it could stall in the Senate.

"We expect a very strong vote in the House, certainly among us Republicans," he said. "It's going to face a challenge, obviously, in the Senate." 

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