House Appropriations offers bill that would boost IRS funding

House Appropriations offers bill that would boost IRS funding
© Getty Images

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee released a spending bill on Wednesday that would increase the IRS budget, including new funds to help implement the GOP tax law.

The IRS funding increase is included in the committee's fiscal 2019 financial services and general government appropriations bill, on which the panel is scheduled to vote on Thursday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Republicans in recent years have been critical of the IRS, particularly following revelations in 2013 that the agency had subjected conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status to extra scrutiny. In the early part of the decade, the IRS saw its budget slashed.

But GOP lawmakers have been more open to giving the IRS a funding boost following passage of the tax law, their signature legislative accomplishment since President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE took office. The fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill Congress passed in March increased the IRS's overall funding level by about $196 million and provided $320 million for tax-law implementation.

The new appropriations bill would give the IRS $11.6 billion. That's a $186 million increase from the enacted level for this year, according to a summary released by Republicans on the appropriations committee.

Of the $11.6 billion, $77 million would be dedicated to implementing the new tax law, matching the amount that the IRS requested for this purpose.

The bill also includes a provision that would generally bar the IRS from using funds to deny tax-exempt status to churches that participate in political campaigns.

President Trump and many congressional Republicans want to repeal the so-called Johnson Amendment, a statute that prevents churches and other nonprofits from endorsing or opposing political candidates. They argue that the current statute violates the First Amendment.

But Democrats and a number of nonprofits and religious groups want the Johnson Amendment to be preserved, arguing that repealing it would lead to an increase in "dark money" in politics.

The House Appropriations Committee also included a provision barring funds for enforcement of the Johnson Amendment in a bill it released last year. However, that provision didn't end up in the final spending bill Congress approved.