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Cole Disapproves of IRS Private Bank Account Spying

October 22, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – During remarks delivered on the House floor yesterday, Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) urged Democrats to allow consideration of legislation he cosponsored, H.R. 5586, the Prohibiting IRS Financial Surveillance Act. The bill would prohibit the implementation of a Democratic proposal that would authorize the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to require financial institutions to report private bank account data of Americans.

As my good friend from Georgia explained, if we defeat the previous question, we will immediately move to bring up his bill, H.R. 5586. This bill is critically important to ensure that there is no expansion of Internal Revenue Service requirements for financial institutions to report the ins and outs of bank accounts.

Members may remember this issue during debate on Obamacare, when the Democrats tried to require anyone who received a payment of more than $600 to be given a 1099. People were rightly outraged by this provision, and it was repealed before it ever went into effect. Now, with their new reconciliation bill, the Democratic majority is yet again looking for payfors and are willing to sacrifice the privacy of all Americans in that quest. Every threshold being discussed for inclusion will give the IRS full access to what’s in the bank account of every American.

And what is the justification for that, Mr. Speaker? It’s to help the IRS identify tax cheats. Well, I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, the Democratic proposal will make everyone who pays rent or a mortgage a target and won’t do anything to help the IRS close the tax gap. 

Mr. Speaker, the Democratic plan is an astonishing breach of privacy. Giving the IRS the power to snoop around financial accounts, even with no accusation of wrongdoing, violates every protection have against the overreach of government power. Americans have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their homes and in their personal lives, including their financial lives.  And yet if the majority has their way, the IRS will be empowered to go digging around in the bank accounts of everyday Americans in search of wrongdoing. That is simply beyond the pale.

We have seen what can happen when the IRS abuses its power. It was only a few short years ago that the IRS was targeting political and religious organizations for their beliefs, an astonishing violation of First Amendment rights. 

What the IRS needs, Mr. Speaker, is oversight and accountability. And that is why we need to bring up and pass H.R. 5586 today. Only this will ensure that the IRS is not granted unprecedented power to intervene in the lives of and invade the privacy of ordinary Americans.