STAUNCHLY PRO-ISRAEL ORGANIZATION WAS SENT FOR ADDITIONAL REVIEW
But the 14 IRS documents do reveal, and they do it categorically, and they constitute an admission on the part of the IRS, that the Service was looking at certain “Israel connected” organizations and making a distinction based upon the organization’s political/ideological viewpoint. And that is the very claim made by Z STREET in its lawsuit brought against the IRS in August, 2010, and in which there is a hearing in federal district court in Washington, D.C. this Friday.
On Wednesday, July 17, a document was filed with the D.C. District Court, the Motion of Plaintiff Z STREET to Supplement the Record to Include Documents Recently Released by Defendant Internal Revenue Service. Several of the points made in that document are:
UNDER OATH, IRS MANAGER SAID Z STREET’S APPLICATION DELAYED DUE TO TERROR FUNDING CONCERNS
- The Manager of the IRS Touch and Go (“TAG”) Group stated under oath, after Z STREET brought its lawsuit against the IRS for viewpoint discrimination, that he concluded, based upon Z STREET’s application for tax exempt status and other submissions that Z STREET’s file should be sent to the TAG Group, #7830.
- The TAG Group manager based his decision upon his view that Z STREET might be engaged in the funding of terrorism because “there is a higher risk of terrorism in Israel.”
NO ORGANIZATIONS SENT FOR ADDITIONAL SCRUTINY BECAUSE OF TERROR CONCERNS
- Nowhere in any of the 14 documents is any organization’s application referred to any group for anything related to the potential funding of terrorism.
- Nowhere in any of the 14 documents is there even any mention of terrorism.
IRS CREATED AN IDEOLOGICAL CATEGORY: “OCCUPIED TERRITORY ADVOCACY”
- The 14 IRS documents released by the House Ways and Means Committee contained a category, created by IRS employees, entitled “Occupied Territory Advocacy.”
- The category for “Occupied Territory Advocacy” had only one organization referred to it, and the notice to IRS inspectors to “Be on the Look Out” for groups under this category was sent on August 10, 2010, just days after Z STREET’s file was reviewed, and a determination was made to send the file to the TAG Group, according to IRS statements.
- The sole entity in the “Occupied Territory Advocacy” category was referred to TAG Group #7830, which is where Z STREET’s file was sent, according to IRS statements.
- The “Occupied Territory Advocacy” category appeared on the August 12, 2010, the November 9, 2010 and the November 16, 2010 IRS documents released on June 24, but it was not present in the next document, dated February 2, 2011, or any of the subsequent 10 IRS documents.
- Z STREET’s application was “put on hold” by the IRS because it brought its lawsuit against the Service, as the IRS explained in a court filing in January, 2011. Once Z STREET’s application was no longer under consideration, the category disappeared.
- The creation of a category for a purely ideological viewpoint is a violation of the IRS mandate, and its use to make decisions about whether to approve or deny tax exempt status on the basis of an applicant’s viewpoint is unconstitutional.
The IRS attorneys at the Justice Department opposed Z STREET’s submission of its memorandum containing the recently released IRS documents, which is not surprising.
Whether the judge will take into consideration the written admissions of the IRS that it treated Z STREET’s application for tax exempt status differently because of the ideological viewpoints held by Z STREET will be revealed in court. And whether the IRS will be subject to any consequences for its misbehavior – its unconstitutional behavior – as some non-profits claim, remains to be seen.Lori Lowenthal Marcus
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com
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