On Thursday February 1st, the Department of Justice announced that it has settled the case raised by Z Street, pending approval by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Z Street, a nonprofit group which educates the public about pro-Israel and mid-east topics, had sued the Internal Revenue Service citing political targeting and prejudice delays and scrutiny in processing their tax exemption eligibility, during the Obama administration. Z Street was known for being an outspoken opponent to President Obama’s policy on Iran and the Iran nuke deal.
Normally, the process for receiving tax-exemption takes three to six months. Z Street filed for this 501(c)3 exemption seven years ago, back in December 2009, only receiving the exemption now, with the agreement to settle the suit. As per Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Z Street founder and a lawyer, the application was stalled because the organization was “connected to Israel“. The 16 page settlement agreement includes an apology from the IRS to Z Street. Z Street posted a statement on its website celebrating the settlement which read, “It happened! The seven-year odyssey with the IRS has concluded with a real victory through the legal system.”
There were also similar cases during this time period, in which the IRS was also sued by other conservative organizations including True the Vote, Linchpins of Liberty and the Norcal Tea Patriots. The organizations alleged that their tax-exempt status was also stalled because of irrelevant criteria. “Tax exemption eligibility should be based on whether an organization’s activities fulfill requirements of the law, not a group’s policy positions or the name chosen to reflect those views,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman, on Thursday. “The attorneys at the Department of Justice work hard to ensure that all Americans receive equal treatment under the law. Today’s settlement further illustrates this commitment.” As per the DOJ, Z Street’s was the final settlement in the series of lawsuits.
“It is improper for the IRS to single out groups for different treatment based on their names or ideological positions. Any entitlement to tax exemption should be based on the activities of the organization and whether they fulfill requirements of the law, not the policy positions adopted by members or the name chosen to reflect those views,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “There is no excuse for this conduct. Hundreds of organizations were affected by these actions, and they deserve an apology from the IRS. We hope that today’s settlement makes clear that this abuse of power will not be tolerated.”
By: Ilana Siyance