A group of 11 senators have written to the Internal Revenue Service asking for information about requests for confidential donor information from organizations applying for tax-exempt status.

In a letter led by U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, the lawmakers said those actions could circumvent the current statutory privacy protections and questioned the targeting of groups specifically seeking the approval or renewal of a tax-exempt designation under section 501(c)(4).

“Congress has made privacy the rule, and not the exception,” the senators wrote. “A list of donors who have given money to specific charitable organizations is something that carries great value to certain interested parties, as trading of personal information about private citizens has become common practice. Unfortunately, the public release of private donor information exposes citizens to possible harassment and intimidation by those who oppose the goals of the charitable organization.”

Joining Hatch on the letter are Senators Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Pat Roberts, R-Kan.,  John Thune, R-S.D., and Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Earlier this year, a dozen Republican Senators called on the IRS to prevent politics from playing a role in any action taken on non-profit 501(c)(4) organizations after several groups applying for the status received excessive follow-up inquiries from the agency (see Senate Republicans Urge IRS to Hasten Approval of Tax-Exempt Political Groups). The IRS responded giving assurances their actions were not for political gain, however the issue of privacy protections was not addressed.

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