Finance

Dems offer resolution to force vote to overturn IRS guidance limiting donor disclosure

Anna Moneymaker

Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Monday announced an effort to force a Senate vote on IRS guidance that reduces donor disclosure requirements for certain tax-exempt groups.

The senators introduced a resolution to overturn the guidance under the Congressional Review Act. They argued that undoing the guidance is necessary to prevent the erosion of transparency in politics.

“We must crack down on the dark money flooding our political system, that’s why we are taking an aggressive approach and introducing this legislation to protect our democracy and hold special interests accountable with transparency,” Tester, who is up for reelection this year in a state Trump won, said in a statement.

{mosads}Under the IRS guidance, issued in July, certain tax-exempt groups no longer are required to disclose to the agency the names and addresses of significant donors on annual forms. Groups that would no longer have to disclose this donor information include social-welfare organizations such as the National Rifle Association and the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity.

Republicans cheered the guidance, saying it will help to prevent the IRS from targeting taxpayers for their political beliefs. But Democrats have blasted the guidance, arguing that it will lead to more secrecy around “dark money” groups and could make it easier for foreign governments to interfere in U.S. elections.

Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, cited the guidance earlier this month when voting against President Trump’s nominee to lead the IRS, Charles Rettig. Many other Democrats, including Tester, also voted against Rettig’s nomination, though he was ultimately confirmed by a vote of 64-33.

“Over the next few weeks political ads will be flooding the airwaves. Because of the Trump administration’s new dark money rule, tax authorities won’t know whether those ads are being paid for by foreign governments or individuals,” Wyden said. “Opposition against my resolution with Senator Tester is an endorsement of the Trump administration’s plan to further cripple campaign finance transparency.”

The Congressional Review Act allows lawmakers to introduce a resolution to disapprove of guidance. The resolution can be discharged from committee without a vote after 20 calendar days. After that, a senator can make a motion to proceed to the resolution on the floor if the measure has written support from at least 30 senators.

The resolution from Wyden and Tester is unlikely to be enacted, even if it passes the Senate, because Republicans have a bigger majority in the House and Trump could veto the measure.

Tags Donald Trump Jon Tester Ron Wyden

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