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Conservatives mark Tax Day by ripping IRS, say reforms are needed

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Conservatives are using the tax filing deadline to take aim at Washington's policy and the IRS, which has been steeped in scandal for nearly a year because of allegations it targeted right-leaning groups seeking favorable tax status.

"It's particularly distressing to hand over our hard-earned dollars to the IRS this year in the wake of its illegal targeting of conservative groups," Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, said Tuesday in a statement. "The IRS must never be used as a tool for partisan warfare and on this Tax Day, I ask my fellow members of Congress to immediately act on legislation to uphold the First Amendment rights of our citizens and ensure no individual or group is targeted based on their political views."

A House oversight committee recently voted to hold Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the political targeting scandal, in contempt, saying she waived her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination yet continues to block their efforts to dig into the issue.

Ms. Lerner apologized in May for the inappropriate treatment of politically aligned nonprofits seeking tax-exempt status. The apology came in an advance of a Treasury inspector general's report that shed light on the issue, setting off a firestorm on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Cruz said the Senate Judiciary Committee should have passed an amendment he offered this year that would make it a crime for the IRS to intentionally discriminate against someone for their political views.

The amendment was voted down in a party-line vote, he noted, as was a measure to use the Federal Election Commission's definitions — not the IRS's — to determine what constitutes political activity under the tax code.

Other Republicans marked Tuesday's deadline with a broader, simpler message.

"Happy tax day! Ugh. Time for hard working Americans to send more of their $ to Washington," Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Missouri Republican, said in a Twitter message. "We need tax reform so people can keep more."

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