Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Building in Washington 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – The US Treasury inspector- general offered no evidence that the term
“pro-Israel” was one of several keywords that were flagged inappropriately by
Several media outlets have alleged that, since 2010, the
Internal Revenue Service has unduly scrutinized applications for tax-exemption
status that include keywords such as “Tea Party” and “patriot.”
story from the Politico website – and picked up by the Drudge Report – cited
complaints from Z Street, a small pro-Israel organization, alleging that the IRS
had been asking them intrusive questions beyond what is normal since at least
2010. The allegation has been conflated by the current scandal involving the IRS
in which the taxcollecting body applied heightened scrutiny in its auditing of
conservative political groups.
In the inspector-general’s report released
this week, there were no findings that “pro-Israel” or “Jewish” were
classifications specifically targeted for political purposes. No evidence has
thus far been discovered that an organization such as Z Street would have been
singled out because of its allegiance to Israel or because of specific Israeli
Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told The
Jerusalem Post that he has neither seen nor heard of any evidence to the
contrary, though he admits that, if a group represented by the conference were
being audited, he might not be the first to know.
The Politico piece
cited only one source from the IRS whose comments indicated the possibility of a
connection to the scandal: Jon Waddell, the manager of the Exempt Organizations
Determinations Group at the IRS.
“Israel is one of many Middle Eastern
countries that have a ‘higher risk of terrorism,’” wrote Waddell concerning
legal action from Z Street.
“A referral to TAG [the Touch and Go Group, a
unit in the IRS Cincinnati branch] is appropriate whenever an application
mentions providing resources to organizations in a country with a higher risk of
But a look at the IRS code on taxexemption procedures
clarifies what Waddell means by “higher risk of terrorism.”
requires Waddell and his team to take into account the activities of an
organization that are deemed to put resources in danger; this includes
activities or grants in foreign countries flagged by the State Department as
having “trends” in terrorism. Those flags automatically prompt legal procedures,
such as questioning through further paperwork.