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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘IRS’

Is Daniel Werfel Jewish?

Friday, May 24th, 2013

President Obama will be appointing senior White House budget officer Daniel Werfel (42) to be the acting commissioner of the IRS.

But the question our readers are asking us is, is Daniel Werfel a member of the Tribe? And is there another Jew in charge (after Jack Lew) of the U.S. finances?

Werfel certainly is a (German) Jewish sounding name.

The anti-Semites certainly think he’s Jewish.

But no one around here recalls going to his Bar Mitzvah or seeing him at any of the secret Elder meetings.

The door is still open on this one.

We’ll let you know as soon as we find out for sure.

Death & Taxes: Welcome to Obamaland

Friday, May 24th, 2013

In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.

We’ve heard this clever aphorism countless times, and nodded our heads in bleak recognition. And yet, have we ever really pondered the ghoulishness that equates taxes with mortality?

Anyone who has ever been audited by the IRS—Seraphic Secret has been twice audited, each time emerging battered but owing the government zero dollars—knows the helpless feeling of being forced to submit to an absolute power, where the normal rules of law and civil society are suspended by an all-powerful government with unlimited resources.

The IRS is a temporal tyranny. Death is the ultimate tyranny. One was created by man, the other by God.

Barack Hussein Obama and the Democrat party are now playing God, by joining death and taxes into one sinister package.

Obamacare is administered by the IRS.

The same lawless agency that has been targeting and oppressing citizens who disagree with the current administration’s policies, is the very agency now tasked with the health—which is to say every breath—of every American.

Indeed, the Obama administration is now setting in motion a system whereby a central government data base will connect Health and Human Services with the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, Homeland Security, and who knows how many other government agencies.

This makes Big Brother look like a benevolent midget.

The dream of the left, articulated by Marx and Lenin, is to create a rigidly ordered society where messy individualism—AKA liberty—is suppressed in favor of  a utopian common good. Of course, the common good, as defined by the ruling leftists, is forever being downgraded to new normals.

For Obama, this is the new normal of massive unemployment and unsustainable national debt. In a few years, the new normal will be further redefined and downgraded. Before you know it, you live in a society where the common good has been so degraded that the very act of remembering what life used to be like under the banner of liberty and free enterprise is but a distant memory, if not a subversive thought as defined by those supermen who regulate our intake of salt, the size of our soda cups, what light bulbs we can use, and how we flush our toilets.

Welcome to Obamaland, where death and taxes is no longer an ironic statement, but a grim reality.

Visit Sephardic Secret.

J Street: Demand Israel’s Peace Process Goal be Palestinian State

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

In a May 22 email to the many thousands on J Street’s virtual rolodex, the organization that calls itself “pro-Israel, pro-peace” revealed its true nature: it is focused solely and exclusively on the creation of a Palestinian State, and peace be damned.

It did this by exhorting its American followers to demand that the democratically elected Israeli leadership say out loud what J Street wants it to say.

J Street cued up from U.S. secretary of state John Kerry’s efforts to launch yet another initiative aimed at achieving peace between Israel and its Arab Palestinian neighbors.

But it then takes what it wants to be true, asserts it as if there is no other truth, and demands that Americans get aggressive with the Israeli government to make a public commitment to J Street’s view of reality, rather than what the Israeli government knows is reality.

Here’s the sleight of hand in J Street’s email:

The basis of any such effort, of course, has to be a two-state solution — an independent Palestine existing in peace and security alongside Israel. But is this the policy of the government of Israel?

Some members of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing coalition are openly stating not only that they do not personally believe in a two-state solution but that the two-state solution is not official government policy. They wrangled about it publicly in a parliamentary committee meeting this week.

Member of Knesset and former Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) noted “substantial divides inside the government” on the question.

And MK Orit Struck (Jewish Home) came right out and said “two states for two peoples is not the government’s official position … it is perhaps Netanyahu’s position… but has not been accepted as the government’s position.”

J Street subtly takes what it says is a basis for a solution and converts it into the solution. In contrast, Israeli leadership is committed to having the goal of the peace process be peace. Such a position is apparently an affront to J Street’s worldview.

It is especially chutzpadik to demand that the Israeli government bend its knee to J Street and declare its support for the creation of a Palestinian state at this time of profound unrest in the Middle East.

This is a singularly dangerous time in Middle East history.  The terrorist-driven Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda and its affiliates are on the ascent.  The closest thing to a moderate Arab Palestinian leader is Mahmoud Abbas whose term as president expired almost 5 years ago.  Abbas routinely and publicly lionizes current and ancient terrorists and frequently admits, although mostly in Arabic,  that he is not committed to peace with Israel.

And Mahmoud Abbas is on record that not one Jew will be allowed to live and breathe in any Palestinian State.  So what exactly is it that J Street is demanding?

J Street’s letter imperiously casts anyone who disagrees with its vision of a perfect Middle East – one with a Palestinian State (whether or not there is peace) – as a roadblock to peace.  The hubris is dazzling.

For there to be any hope of progress, the Israeli government must state unequivocally that support for a two-state solution is a core principle of its foreign policy – as it has been under every Prime Minister since Yitzhak Rabin.

A simple declarative statement by Netanyahu or by Israel’s US ambassador Michael Oren would dispel these doubts immediately. They need to speak out now.

Adding still more urgency to its demand, J Street includes a quote from MK Ronen Hoffman, “how is it possible to expect the Palestinians to enter negotiations when part of our government opposes a Palestinian state?”

And yet, no demand is made of any Arab Palestinian leader to commit to peace with Israel.

Why isn’t J Street’s question turned around? Shouldn’t supporters of Israel logically ask this question, instead: “How is it possible to expect the Israeli government to enter negotiations with Arab Palestinian leaders when there is overwhelming evidence that few if any of the leadership supports peace with the Jewish State of Israel?”

J Street ends its May 22 email pooh-poohing the idea that mere talks between the parties is useful. Again it asserts its own position as if it were ultimate truth: “But what’s needed isn’t talk, it’s a resolution of this conflict and that will only happen if both sides are clearly committed to reaching the same goal: a two-state solution.”

Partisan Nation

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

The use of the IRS to target conservative groups should be the least surprising development in years. Not only does that sort of thing date back to Clinton and JFK, both of whom unleashed the IRS on their enemies, not to mention Nixon who never managed to pull off the things that JFK grinned, did and got away with, but there was no reason for not to do it.

The two reasons not to sic the IRS on your enemies are decency and the law. Is there anything in Obama’s career, including his treatment of fellow Democrats, to suggest that he cares for either one?

The man in the White House clawed his way to power by stabbing his mentor in the back, leaking the divorce records of his political opponents and throwing out the votes of Democrats in Florida and Michigan to claim the nomination.

And he was just getting started.

In the last election, Obama urged voters to punish our “enemies.” It was a window into the mindset of a man who moans and groans about partisan politics, but talks like Huey Long when he gets in front of the right audience.

But these days the description is fairly apt. Who was the last president that both sides could agree was an okay sort of guy or something less than the devil incarnate? The answer might be George H. W. Bush, who was pilloried for being an out of touch rich guy, but really not all that bad when you think about it. And that means we have to go back two decades to find a president that the other side didn’t think should be put on an ice floe and pushed out to sea.

And before Bush I, we would have to go back all the way to the Eisenhower or Truman era. Politics was never nice. It was often very nasty indeed. But this isn’t the petty infighting of the political class anymore. We’re not talking about Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr shooting it out or Eleanor Roosevelt driving a car with a teapot on its roof behind Theodore Roosevelt Jr to keep him away from the job that would eventually go to her husband. This is a partisan politics born out of ideology.

The old politics sought a status quo that could be tweaked to favor one side or interest. The new ideological politics seek a fundamental transformation that will entirely destroy the status quo and eventually tear out every element, overturn every trace of what was and replace it with what should be. Ideological partisanship of this stripe is not concerned with the stability of the system. It is not worried about burning bridges because it believes all the bridges will have to be burned anyway.

There is a limit to what any political movement can do out of greed or personal vendettas in a democracy, but there is no limit to what it can do when it combines these with a political ideology whose ends justify all means. There is nothing that it will not do because it is unconcerned with the long term consequences of its actions, only with the short term results. It has no long term investment in the existing system which it intends to destroy.

Corrupt ideologies treat men with no decency as valuable assets. Their lack of scruples proves their willingness to put ideology over all mores and norms. The more extreme the ideology, the fewer limits it accepts on its freedom of action against its enemies and the more such actions come to seem natural. And then why not punish your enemies by using the full force of government against them?

The practical reason for not using government agencies to repress your opposition in a democracy was that they might do the same thing to you. But the mobilization of the bureaucracy as an arm of the left has made that fear largely irrelevant. Using the IRS to target Democrats would be dangerous business for a Republican. And the same would go for every other Federal agency whose appointees may be loosely conservative, but oversee organizations stuffed full of liberals and union members.

There is no such deterrent on the other side. And the only remaining deterrent, the fear of public exposure was largely nullified by the media. The impression was that Obama Inc. could do anything it pleased and get away with it. And so it did.

Congress Widens IRS Investigation, Pro-Israel Groups Were Targeted

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

The chairman and the ranking committee member of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee released a letter the committee sent today, May 14, to Steve Miller, Acting Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.  That letter informs Miller that the committee has greatly expanded the scope of its investigation into alleged misdeeds by the IRS.

Among other information that congress is now seeking is information about the IRS’s special scrutiny of organizations whose mission involve Israel.

Last week The Jewish Press connected the admitted increased scrutiny of certain conservative organizations by the IRS, and the alleged targeting by the agency of Z STREET, a pro-Israel organization.  That activity gave rise to a lawsuit filed against the IRS in 2010. (This reporter is the president of the organization that brought that lawsuit.)

Congressmen Dave Camp (R-MI)  and Sander Levin (D-MI) signed a 3 page, single space, 13 point  letter today, making clear that congress was greatly displeased with the lack of candor and responsiveness the IRS has displayed towards their committee’s now-nearly two year long investigation of the agency.

In addition to seeking information about the IRS dealing with organization’s whose mission deals with Israel, the Ways and Means Committee is also seeking information about any other kinds of organizations the IRS chose to scrutinize based upon those organization’s political views.

The tone of the letter makes clear that Acting Commissioner Miller is in for a grueling hearing this Friday.  The congressmen use euphemisms, but what they are accusing the IRS of doing was lying to the Committee, repeatedly – either by commission or omission – about actions it has now admitted taking.  Now they want to know, essentially, who decided that the committee would be told lies, and how far up the chain of command did the lying go, in addition to the underlying inappropriate conduct.

Congress is also demanding to know what information about the now-admitted, and perhaps additional to be admitted misdeeds was shared with the Treasury Department and with the White House, and when that information was shared.

One of the most jarring paragraphs in any letter sent to a government agency by a congressional committee is found in the May 14 letter from Congressmen Camp and Levin:

The IRS, through its officials, is legally and ethically bound to tell the truth to Congress and the American people.  In this situation, the IRS had a continuing obligation to update and correct information provided to Congress if it was later determined to be incomplete or inaccurate.  Why did your agency fail to be completely forthcoming with the Committee in its responses to the Committee’s ongoing investigation and in testimony before the Committee regarding the IRS’s practice of targeting conservative groups?

It is also clear that the Ways and Means Committee will be holding additional hearings into alleged widespread misdeeds.  The new material congress seeks must be supplied to the Ways and Means Committee by May 21, a week from today.

Perhaps the only thing that is not yet clear is who made the decisions to employ the vast power of the IRS to engage in inappropriate, bullying activity of particular groups of Americans, and how and who made the decisions to cover up that activity.  It appears congress intends to find out the answers to those questions.

It’s going to be a long, hot summer for the IRS.

 

IRS Chief Under the Congressional Spotlight on Friday

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

A concerted effort by a mid-level Internal Revenue Service official last Friday, May 10, to confess to some minor irregularities in how the IRS has dealt with conservative organizations seeking tax exempt status has unraveled.  Lois Lerner, who oversees tax exempt organizations for the IRS, attempted to get out the word under the radar.  She failed miserably.

Lerner attempted to present the issue as having affected a small number of organizations, targeted by using a few key words, and acted out by only a few low level IRS employees in a remote office, for a limited period of time, which took place without the consent or even knowledge of higher level IRS officials.  By Monday morning that cover had been entirely blown.

In the center of a scandal that continues to grow wider, deeper and longer by the day, the Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner will be sitting in the hot seat before the House Ways and Means Committee this Friday morning, May 17, starting at 9:00 a.m.

The hearing is to discuss the practice of targeting applicants for tax-exempt status based on political leanings.  There will only be two people called to testify at this hearing: Acting Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Steve Miller, and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, J. Russell George.  Miller was the assistant to the former IRS commissioner, Douglas Shulman, under whose watch many of the complaining organizations experienced allegedly excessive and inappropriate probing by the IRS.

The first admission, last Friday afternoon, was that the IRS had been subjecting certain conservative groups to increased scrutiny but insisting that only “low level IRS employees” in a remote Ohio office were using inappropriate ways in which to flag certain groups, and that the practice was short-lived.  The excuse was that in 2012 there were so many new groups seeking tax exempt status that the Agency had to figure out ways in which to more quickly help determine which groups were legitimate and which weren’t.

But as revelations continue to leak out of Washington, D.C., it appears the practice was much broader, it took place in multiple IRS offices in cities across the country, it went on for a much longer period of time than was originally admitted, and high level IRS officials were aware of some aspects of the progress for far longer than had earlier been admitted.

In addition to inappropriate questioning by IRS agents in Cincinnati, Ohio, the original site mentioned by Lerner, documents have revealed that agents in Washington, D.C. and at least one other IRS office were involved in providing increased levels of scrutiny to certain conservative organizations.

And it wasn’t only groups with the words “tea party” and “patriot” in their organization’s names that were pulled out of line for additional scrutiny.  The IRS net included groups that opposed Obamacare, those that focused on vote fraud, ones that sought to educate about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and ones that sought to limit the role of government.

Although Lerner claimed only low-level agents in the Cincinnati office engaged in and knew about the practice, it is now known that IRS employees in Washington were aware of the practice. The Inspector General’s report states that officials at the Internal Revenue Service knew in June 2011 that their agents were targeting conservative groups for additional scrutiny on tax documents, CNN reported Monday.

The original revelation of IRS inappropriate activity suggested that the practice only began in 2012, but the Inspector General’s report revealed that the practice began as far back as 2010.

IRC 501(c)(3) versus 501 (c)(4)

Thus far it appears that almost all of the groups complaining about the inappropriate, politically-oriented targeting are organizations seeking tax exempt status as “social welfare” organizations, which come under the Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(4).  These groups, as distinct from 501(c)(3) organizations, are given more leeway in terms of engaging in political activity. There was a huge increase in the number of such organizations following a 2010 Supreme Court decision which gave a hecksher to political campaign spending by corporations, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

Both (c)(3) organizations and (c)(4) organizations are exempt from paying taxes, but only donations made to (c)(3) organizations are tax deductible.  Organizations that are (c)(3)s can engage in only very limited lobbying activity and cannot engage in political activity at all, whereas (c)(4)s can engage in unlimited lobbying and can engage in political activity to the extent it is consistent with the organization’s mission and so long as it is not the organization’s primary activity.

The pro-Israel and Jewish organizations that have complained about inappropriate IRS activity by the IRS are 501(c)(3)s.

It may be that the next wave of congressional inquiry will focus on what other kinds of organizations have been targeted for special scrutiny by the IRS.

In addition to Friday’s House Ways and Means Committee hearing, the IRS can look forward to hearings before at least one more, if not two more, congressional committees.

On Monday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MONTANA) called for a full investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative groups. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) also announced on Monday that the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations plans to investigate the new IRS revelations.

President Barack Obama issued a statement on Monday calling the alleged misdoing by the IRS “outrageous, if true.”  White House spokesperson Jay Carney said that Obama only found out about the matter last Friday.

IRS Punished Conservative Non-Profits, Perhaps Also Pro-Israel Groups

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

For more than a year the U.S. Congress has been investigating whether the Internal Revenue Service was inappropriately treating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, or burdening such groups with requests and demands which are impermissible, as many had claimed.

Friday, May 10, the IRS person in charge of the division dealing with non-profits, Lois Lerner, apologized for actions taken by the agency which were based on political affiliation.

“That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review,” Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association.

“The IRS would like to apologize for that,” she added.

How did the IRS do this?  By singling out dozens of organizations for additional reviews because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their exemption applications, Lerner admitted.

The Ways and Means Committee has been seeking information on precisely this activity and “the IRS repeatedly denied they were targeting conservative grassroots organizations,” said committee chair Dave Camp (R-MI) in response to the revelation.  He announced  that the committee will soon hold hearings on this now-admitted practice by the IRS.

Camp stated in a press release issued just after the admission of wrongdoing by the IRS, “The IRS absolutely must be non-partisan in its enforcement of our tax laws. The admission by the agency that it targeted American taxpayers based on politics is both shocking and disappointing. The Committee on Ways and Means will thoroughly investigate this matter and will soon hold a hearing to get to the bottom of this situation.  We will hold the IRS accountable for its actions.”

PRO-ISRAEL GROUP SUED IRS CLAIMING TARGETING PRACTICE

While they are at it, the committee might want to ask the IRS whether their list of targets extended beyond political party discrimination. There is evidence the IRS also targeted pro-Israel groups whose positions were potentially inconsistent with the administration’s.

For example, in 2010, the passionately pro-Israel organization Z STREET filed a lawsuit against the IRS, claiming it had been told by an IRS agent that because the organization was “connected to Israel,” its application for tax-exempt status would receive additional scrutiny.  This admission was made in response to a query about the lengthy reveiw of Z STREET’s tax exempt status application.

In addition, the IRS agent told a Z STREET representative that the applications of some of those Israel-related organizations have been assigned to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”

Z STREET’s lawsuit claims the IRS activity constitutes viewpoint discrimination and a violation of its constitutionally protected right of free speech.  The organization is seeking, among other things, complete disclosure to the public regarding the origin, development, approval, substance and application of the IRS policy to treat pro-Israel organizations differently than it does other organizations. (disclosure: this reporter was the founder and president of Z STREET when the litigation was filed.)

At least one purely religious Jewish organization, one not focused on Israel, was the recipient of bizarre and highly inappropriate questions about Israel.  Those questions also came from the same non-profit division of the IRS at issue for inappropriately targeting politically conservative groups. The IRS required that Jewish organization to state “whether [it] supports the existence of the land of Israel,” and also demanded the organization “[d]escribe [its] religious belief system toward the land of Israel.”

For years the IRS has denied it took any such inappropriate actions and has done its best to prevent Z STREET from pursuing its claim of viewpoint discrimination. The IRS even took the position that because Israel is a country “where terrorism happens,” the service was justified in taking additional time to determine whether Z STREET was involved with funding terrorism.  Z STREET is a purely educational organization that has never funded anything, either in Israel or anywhere else.

Coincidentally, after two and a half years of non-movement, the very first hearing in Z STREET v IRS was recently scheduled for the afternoon of Tuesday, July 2, in the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia.

Representatives of several tea party groups rejected the apology offered by the IRS, and insist that steps be taken to prevent such blatant discrimination in the future.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/irs-punished-conservative-non-profits-perhaps-also-pro-israel-groups/2013/05/11/

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