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Just as he said he would, and as The Jewish Press reported in December, Cornell Law professor William A. Jacobson has filed a challenge to the American Studies Association’s tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service.
Jacobson filed his challenge on Monday, Jan. 6. The essence of the 36 page challenge is that the boycott of Israeli academic institutions is inconsistent with the only purpose for which the ASA was granted tax exempt status, i.e. education. In addition, the boycott itself constitutes discrimination on the basis of national origin, and therefore it is a violation of American public policy.
According to the 36 page legal document, filed under the federal “Tax Whistleblower Act,” the ASA’s boycott was taken on behalf of “Palestinian civil society” and will impact all Israeli academic institutions and all faculty representing or acting on behalf of Israeli academic institutions or the Israeli government.
But, Jacobson challenges, the ASA’s academic boycott is not consistent with the bases upon which its tax exemption was granted. The challenge and Jacobson’s explanations can be found at his blog, Legal Insurrection.
The remedy sought by Jacobson’s challenge is the revocation of the ASA’s tax exempt status because, as the result of its decision to pursue the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, the ASA is “no longer ‘organized and operated exclusively for charitable or educational purposes’ and does not primarily serve a public purpose” as required under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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