IRS Policy May Have Violated First Amendment

In the Internal Revenue Service's tax exempt scandal, it’s not just tea party groups that were targeted by the IRS. Turns out, the IRS also targeted at least one group whose political views regarding Israel were at odds with the Obama Administration. Z Street, an educational organization and Israeli booster, applied for tax exempt status back in 2009, but was never approved.

Z Street founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus says, “The IRS engaged in blatant viewpoint discrimination because Z Street’s views on the Middle East contradict the administration’s.” Seven months after the organization filed its application for tax exempt status, Marcus says Z Street’s corporate counsel contacted the IRS and was told that applications similar to Z Street’s were handled by a specific unit at IRS Headquarters in Washington, which handled applications of organizations supporting policies that differed with the administration’s.

The organization sued the IRS the following month and now the D.C. Circuit Court has ruled that a viewpoint discrimination suit can proceed. The IRS has claimed the Anti-Injunction Act prevents suits meant to evade the collection of taxes and that the IRS is protected by the doctrine of sovereign immunity.

Today, the IRS declined to comment for this story, citing the ongoing litigation. The agency has seven days to appeal the case to the full circuit court.