Sens. Phillips-Hill, Bartolotta ask Congress to block Feds from accessing private bank accounts

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Pennsylvania Sens. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) and Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver/Washington/Greene) introduced a resolution Monday that would call on the U.S. Congress to oppose efforts by the Biden Administration to gain access to private citizens’ and businesses’ banking information.

Last week, the Biden Administration proposed paying for the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan by cracking down on tax dodging by the wealthy. Part of that plan would allow the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to require financial institutions to report personal and small business customers’ account balances with more than $600 in annual deposits or withdrawals. The idea has drawn sharp opposition from Republicans in Congress.

Phillips-Hill and Bartolotta said the federal proposal is misguided and would not target those cheating on their taxes but would capture financial information on nearly every Pennsylvania individual taxpayer and business.

“Pennsylvanians have real concerns about having their financial institution share this information with the IRS when the agency has a troubling track record of protecting taxpayer data,” the senators wrote to their colleagues in a memo soliciting support. “The IRS is a constant target of cybercriminals and has recently suffered significant data breaches. It is impractical and ill-advised for the government to put this significant amount of additional sensitive financial data at risk, especially when the IRS does not even have the capability to effectively utilize that data.”

The senators said their offices have received calls and emails from concerned citizens and that they hoped to send a clear message to Congress on behalf of their constituents.

“Americans rightfully prize their privacy, so this effort by the Biden Administration has created concern. It would be another example of law-abiding citizens being penalized for the misdeeds of others, and that is not the precedent that should be set,” Bartolotta said. “Americans deserve better.”

The resolution was recently referred to the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.