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Friday, December 07, 2007

Peace Now watch: Does the IRS know?

Writing both at his own blog and at Soccer Dad's, Daled Amos reports that a web site has been set up that counters 'Peace Now.' It's called ShalomNow.com and for now it's only in Hebrew.

According to Arutz Sheva, the site has 3 goals:

To reveal the truth regarding the radical organization known as Peace Now; to enable mutual help among those who have been hurt by Peace Now in sharing information and the like; and to encourage judicial and other legal actions against Peace Now and its activists.
But here's the most curious part:
Apparently, one of the truths is that Peace Now is not legally recognized:
In response to an earlier suit by King against Peace Now demanding an award for damages, [Peace Now co-founder Tzali] Reshef said that Peace Now cannot be sued because it is not technically a legally-recognized association. King then countered with a suit demanding that Peace Now be erased from all the cases it itself brought against Jewish interests in Judea and Samaria.

"If it can't be sued, then it can't sue," King says. He expresses astonishment that the State Prosecution - headed until last week by Peace Now co-founder Eran Shendar - never "realized" that the many court suits filed over the years by Peace Now were illegal.

I find this curious because Peace Now does its fundraising in the US through something called American Friends of Peace Now, which (I assume) is what's known in the US as a "501(c)(3)" organization after the section in the US tax code.
Section 501(c)(3) is a tax law provision granting exemption from the federal income tax to non-profit organizations. This exemption does not cover other federal taxes such as employment taxes.

501(c)(3) exemptions apply to corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.


Political activity

Organizations with this classification are prohibited from conducting political campaign activities to influence elections to public office. Public charities (but not private foundations) are permitted to conduct a limited amount of lobbying to influence legislation. Although the law states that "no substantial part" of a public charity's activities may be devoted to lobbying, charities with very large budgets may lawfully expend a million dollars (under the "expenditure" test) or more (under the "substantial part" test) per year on lobbying.

All 501(c)(3) organizations are also permitted to educate individuals about issues, or fund research that supports their political position without overtly advocating for a position on a specific bill. Think tanks such as the Cato Institute, Center for American Progress, and Heritage Foundation and other 501(c)(3) organizations produce reports and recommendations on policy proposals that do not count as lobbying under the tax code.
Any tax lawyers out there? Does Peace Now pass the political activity test? Can an "American Friends of [Foreign Charitable organization]" be a 501(c)(3) when the foreign charitable organization doesn't exist?


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