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Should Your Church Have to Hand Over Your SS#?

12-09-2015
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WASHINGTON -- When you put money into the offering plate at church, the IRS wants to collect something too.

For donations of at least $250, the tax agency wants to give church officials the option of handing over their donors' Social Security numbers.

Currently churches and charities are required to send an acknowledgement letter to their donors for their tax records.

"And what the IRS is saying is, 'Well, you can skip doing that if you get the donor's Social Security number and then you send us a spread sheet at the end of the year with those Social Security numbers,'" Hans von Spakovsky, a legal expert with The Heritage Foundation, said.

Many Americans already don't trust the IRS after the agency targeted conservative groups and there's a fear this voluntary regulation will become mandatory.

"I think this is the camel's nose under the tent," Spakovsky told CBN News.

It's an intrusion that could have a chilling effect on donations that are already hard to come by. The collection of Social Security numbers by churches also raises serious security concerns.

"Look, not even the government can keep their Social Security numbers from getting out. As you know, there were these big cyber-attacks on OPM, they lost 20 million Social Security numbers and this would make charities a target for cyber criminals," Spakovsky warned.

"If a cyber-criminal has the option of attacking a charity and trying to get this information or attacking a high-priced business or the government, which has a lot more security protocols in place, well who are they going to go for?" he asked.

Spakovsky said this proposed regulation is just another example of the federal bureaucracy stepping outside its bounds.

"You know, we have all these federal agencies that have created this basically fourth branch of government. The administrative state and all of them have far too much power," he said.

"The regulations they issue often are very intrusive and this is just another example of that kind of a problem," he said.

**Citizens can comment on the regulation here through December 16.

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