IRS Reporting Grassroots Campaign Evolves with Congressional Debate

By Jack Coleman

ICBA’s campaign against Washington’s IRS reporting proposal has helped consumers speak out against the plan. But as the debate evolves, the campaign now demands that community bankers increase their grassroots outreach through calls and messages to Capitol Hill.

Lay of the Land

With ICBA’s campaign generating a flurry of consumer messages to Congress and growing media coverage, policymakers are attempting to quell the public backlash with minor updates to the proposal.

Among the tweaks, lawmakers have suggested raising the proposal’s threshold at which banks would be required to report customer financial information, from $600 to $10,000 in annual account flows.

Of course, this would benefit hardly any taxpayers while making the policy more difficult to implement. And as ICBA has said publicly, the updates would not address the proposal’s privacy, due process, and data security concerns.

Community Banker Grassroots

To clearly illustrate continued opposition to the IRS reporting proposal, now is the time for community bankers to weigh in directly with their members of Congress.

ICBA’s Be Heard grassroots action center offers:

Phone calls to congressional offices—which studies show are four times more effective than letters—are particularly vital at this stage of the debate. To maximize their impact, community bankers should ask for a banking or tax staffer, be prepared with talking points, provide examples of customer concerns, and record notes to follow up with ICBA.

Calling three congressional offices—two in the Senate and one in the House—can be done in a matter of minutes. Lawmakers have heard from constituents; now it’s time for them to listen to you.

Consumer Outreach Still Critical

While community banker outreach is increasingly important, continuing to rally customers and other consumers remains essential. Community bankers should continue using ICBA’s customizable email and social media content to urge consumers to contact Congress in opposition.

In addition to the campaign’s consumer messages, its #KeepMyBankingPrivate hashtag has generated more than 16 million impressions on social media. ICBA polling conducted by Morning Consult found 67% of voters oppose the IRS reporting plan, and Americans have clearly shown they’re willing to speak out against it.

Lawmakers are working to slip the IRS plan into the budget-reconciliation package at the last minute. Now is the time for community bankers to join their customers in making clear that no amount of tweaking can salvage this misguided plan.

Jack Coleman is ICBA director of advocacy.

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