A bewildered civil liberties lawyer expressed frustration to Republican members on the House Ways and Means Committee on Sept. 29, asking why the IRS has time to harass evangelical Christian groups seeking tax exemptions but can’t prevent leaks of tax records.
“Why is it that the IRS has time to go after Christians Engaged, but they don’t have time to secure the files of taxpayers, so that they are not breached by foreign adversaries? Why is it not a priority to track the dollars of terrorist organizations, but it is a priority to find out what Christians Engaged was up to?” asked Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
He was responding to a question from Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kan.) during a roundtable titled “Weaponization of the IRS: A Sordid History and the Need for Taxpayer Protections.” No Democratic members of the panel attended the roundtable.
Christians Engaged was recently denied tax-exempt status because the agency views prayer and Bible study as partisan activities associated with Republicans.
Sekulow was referring to a recent leak of hundreds of tax documents for 15 of the nation’s wealthiest individuals to ProPublica, a liberal investigative advocacy group. The group stated that it didn’t know the identity of the source that provided the documents, but conceded that the source could be Russia, China, or another foreign adversary of the United States such as a terrorist group.
The roundtable was convened by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the ranking Republican member of the Ways and Means panel, and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), the top Republican on the panel’s oversight subcommittee.
The roundtable was prompted by President Joe Biden’s proposal to spend $80 billion to double the IRS workforce and grant the federal tax agency new authority to examine the financial records of any business or private individual whenever a transaction worth $600 or more is made into or out of their bank accounts. The agency currently has the authority it was given following the 9/11 terrorist attacks to examine bank transactions of $10,000 or more.