GOP Bill Would Force IRS to Conduct Abortion Audits

Nick Baumann of Mother Jones reports that H.R. 3, a bill now gathering steam in the GOP-led House of Representatives, would demand reporting of abortions to Internal Revenue Service auditors:

Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?

In testimony to a House taxation subcommittee on Wednesday, Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff of the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, confirmed that one consequence of the Republicans' "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" would be to turn IRS agents into abortion cops--that is, during an audit, they'd have to detemine, from evidence provided by the taxpayer, whether any tax benefit had been inappropriately used to pay for an abortion....

The proposal, which House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has declared a top priority of the new Republican Congress, has 221 cosponsors and is expected to pass the House easily. The bill caused controversy and sparked a national protest campaign in January after Mother Jones reported that it would limit the Hyde Amendment's rape exception to cases of "forcible rape." Experts told Mother Jones that move could prevent Medicaid from paying for abortions in many rape cases, including statutory rapes. Despite the presence of many other controversial provisions, the bill regained momentum after its sponsors promised to strip the "forcible rape" language. But during Wednesday's hearing, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) highlighted the IRS enforcement issue, which has until now flown under the radar.

Read the full story at Mother Jones.

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Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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