WASHINGTON, D.C. – Maine Sen. Susan Collins introduced a bill Wednesday to crackdown on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)’s abuse of Americans’ Constitutional rights.
The Maine Republican’s Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014 follows the high-profile scandal of the Barack Obama administration in which high-level IRS employees targeted nonprofit groups aligned with the tea party movement for heightened, and some would say illegal, scrutiny.
“Mr. President,” Collins said Wednesday night in her Senate testimony, “It has been said that the power to tax is the power to destroy. The American people cannot and will not tolerate any abuse of that power.”
The legislation Collins is offering would require the IRS Oversight Board to report to Congress annually on allegations of abuse of taxpayers’ Constitutional rights, the number of employees fired for such violations, the justification for not firing employees involved in abuses, and the effectiveness of internal controls, if any, designed to combat such abuses.
Ironically, the legislation was introduced on the same day that Lois Lerner, a former IRS employee embroiled in the current scandal, refused to testify before a House Oversight Committee hearing, instead invoking her 5th Amendment right not to incriminate herself.
Collins said the IRS has a long history of trampling on Constitutional rights, but that the recent scandal shows previous, reactionary reform efforts have done little to curb abuses of power in the federal government’s most feared agency.
“The IRS’s history of abuses demonstrate that Congress must be ever-vigilant in protecting taxpayers,” said Collins. “The agency’s power allows it to pervade the most sensitive aspects of Americans’ private lives. Irrespective of whether those singled out are liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, Independent or Green Party members, the targeting of private citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights is way out of bounds, illegal behavior, and cannot be tolerated.”
The bill does not currently have any co-sponsors.
Watch Collins’ testimony here:
Editor, Maine Wire