Americans deserve better than the IRS

Tax season is stressful. Americans should not be further burdened or afraid that after they send over their taxes, they may face unnecessary and unconstitutional scrutiny by the IRS. With this in mind, I introduced legislation to protect Americans' First Amendment rights from IRS targeting.

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Americans have seen federal agencies abuse their power—and the IRS is one of the worst offenders. There is no denying that in the past, the IRS has specifically targeted conservative groups — a direct violation of the First Amendment.

My legislation, H.R. 4903, specifically protects Americans by prohibiting the use of funds by the IRS and its rogue bureaucrats to carry out government abuse on citizens for exercising their constitutional rights. We must hold the IRS and its unelected bureaucrats accountable — especially since they have overstepped their Constitutional bounds before.

"I refuse to allow another American to be persecuted and targeted by IRS bureaucrats for expressing their First Amendment rights, no matter their beliefs."

My colleagues serving on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee have been investigating the IRS' unlawful targeting of conservative groups since 2012.They were dogged in their pursuit of justice for every American's fundamental right: freedom of speech.

For 27 months, from February 2010 until May 2012, the IRS systematically targeted conservative tax-exempt applicants for additional scrutiny and delay. This is an egregious violation of the First Amendment rights of ALL Americans. The leader of this scheme was Lois Lerner, an IRS official at the time.

For two more years, the IRS circumvented Congress' investigations. Lois Lerner time and time again, refused to cooperate with Congress in its investigation of targeting conservative groups, and instead hid behind the Fifth Amendment. Not surprisingly, the Obama Administration's Department of Justice unilaterally decided not to prosecute Lois Lerner for her unlawful actions.

Thankfully, Congress vowed to continue to find answers and hold the IRS accountable for its actions. While it is disappointing that it takes an act of Congress to remind the IRS that the Constitution is the law of the land, we cannot let history repeat itself. I refuse to allow another American to be persecuted and targeted by IRS bureaucrats for expressing their First Amendment rights, no matter their beliefs.

The House holds the power of the purse. As such, it is within our authority to gut the IRS where it hurts the most: their use of hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Although the IRS — like all of this president's agencies — may appear like the giant Goliath, with God on his side, David struck him down. Like David, we are not afraid to stand up to Goliath and will strike the wounding blow to the IRS.

No American should fear persecution from the government for expressing his or her strongly held beliefs and convictions.

Commentary by Representative Rick Allen, who represents Georgia's 12th Congressional district since 2015. Prior to his time in Congress, Rick spent his career starting and building his own business. He currently sits on the House of Representatives committee on Agriculture as well as the House Education and Workforce committee. Follow him on Twitter @RepRickAllen.

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