Un-leveling the playing field
Amidst the controversies swirling around the targeting of conservative groups seeking 501(c)(4) approval from the IRS, another issue emerged related to a pro-Israel organization seeking full charitable status from the IRS.
Z Street, a pro-Israel group applying for tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3), or educational agency, filed a federal lawsuit in Philadelphia, claiming that it was subject to additional scrutiny since it was, according to an IRS agent, “connected to Israel.” Z Street’s attorney also claimed that he was told by an IRS agent that similar groups filing for tax-exempt status were assigned to a “special unit in the DC office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”
On another front, the manager of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Determinations Group wrote that because Israel is one of the many Middle Eastern counties that have a “high-risk of terrorism, it should undergo greater scrutiny” to weed out applications that might be coming from organizations that might be used to fund terrorism. Isn’t Israel on America’s side combatting terrorism? In fact, Israel has been very effective in combatting terrorism, and its methods have been shared with our major law-enforcement and counter-terrorism agencies.
We are not pre-judging the outcome of the lawsuit, to be heard in July. But we are concerned about the climate of politicization by this most powerful of federal agencies and its possible impact on our most fundamental freedoms.
In her apology for targeting conservative groups, Lois Lerner, the IRS executive in charge of dealing with nonprofits, states that targeting according to political affiliation was “absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive…. The IRS would like to apologize for that.”
Let’s hope that we get to the bottom of this assault on our freedoms and ensure that the proper controls are in place so that such targeting — whether motivated by politics or misguided “public policies” — will never recur.